Decatur Police Department and Child Advocacy Group Partner in Trauma Response Program | Government and politics

DECATUR — The city’s police department and a local children’s advocacy center are teaming up to deliver an immediate trauma response program directly to young victims of crime.

Child 1st Center, a child advocacy center that serves children and families in Macon and Piatt counties, currently operates Macon County HEALS (Helping Everyone Access Linked Systems), a program that works with victims of crime under 25 years old.

Under a new proposal, the program will be expanded so that HEALS staff can respond to certain calls the Decatur Police Department responds to to begin working with families immediately following a violent crime.

The current process is referral-based, which advocates and police officials say delays the connection between crisis workers and victims and often reduces the likelihood that victims will use the services offered. .

“This program is designed basically to have an immediate response from Macon County Heals when these violent crimes occur so that we can immediately connect these victims with the counselors and services they need and then hopefully increase the chance of success and getting treatment for them,” Decatur Police Chief Shane Brandel said.

The goal of the program is to reach victims at the height of their trauma and increase participation in recovery services, which advocates say can reduce the negative effects associated with trauma.

“If we meet them in the first 24 to 48 hours, the chances of them actually engaging in counseling services, feeling supported, cooperating with law enforcement, all of those things are better served,” said said Jean Moore, executive director of Child 1st.

Services include counselling, provision of clothing, emergency safe accommodation and childcare assistance, among others. The program will have one full-time employee and one part-time employee.

Moore said there are about 30 people currently in the county’s HEALS program with the expectation of at least one more couple per week.

The $132,000 pilot program is expected to last at least two years, Moore said.

The city, United Way of Decatur and Mid-Illinois and the TS and Juanita Ballance Foundation each invested $30,000 and she received $21,200 from the Illinois Victims of Violent Crimes Assistance Act, which leaves her just short of her fundraising goal.

The city’s $30,000 portion — unanimously approved by the Decatur City Council on Monday — will come from its allocation of more than $34 million in U.S. federal bailout funds.

“It’s going to take a village to reduce gun violence in the city,” Councilor David Horn said. “And so, programs like this are just one of many things the city can do and citizens can do to break the cycle of violence.”

Contact Brenden Moore at 217-421-7984. Follow him on Twitter at @brendenmoore13.

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