Having previously been a foster parent here in Nebraska, I knew immediately where I wanted get my information for this Victim's Advocate Project. Having worked directly with the Child Advocacy Center in Lincoln with some of my former foster children, I was happy to get into contact with its executive director, Lynn Ayers. Lynn has been working in victim's advocacy, particularly as a children and family advocate for over 36 years, and has a wealth of knowledge on the subject. In her time in this field, she has seen a variety of cases and was more than happy to respond to my request for an interview via e-mail correspondence.
The Child Advocacy Center is located in Lincoln, Nebraska, and is a non-profit organization providing a safe, child-friendly location for conducting forensic interviews and medical evaluations for abused children in Southeast Nebraska (Overview, Child Advocacy Center). In recent years, the center has created satellite offices in both York and Nebraska City. The work of the Child Advocacy Center is funded both by private, goodwill donations and public grants. According to Ms. Ayers, the Child Advocacy Center's finances are comprised of one-third government contracts, one-third monies from grants and foundations, and the final third is made up of individual, corporate and community groups' direct donations. The final third also includes special fundraising events put on especially for the center.
The Child Advocacy Center is equipped with direct support employees all having at least a bachelor's degree in social work, psychology, human services, criminal justice, or another related field. The role of an advocate is to provide immediate and ongoing support for the child-victim, as well as their non-offending parent(s) from the point of initial contact and disclosure all the way through completion of the court case. Advocates are on-call around the clock to support and assist victims. The program provides "Court School" for any child victim who must testify in either juvenile or criminal court. This court school educates children about the trial process in an effort to eliminate fear regarding the trial process. The Child Advocacy Center also helps with gaining protection orders, writing victim's impact statements, and filling out Crime Victim Compensation applications. Victims and their families are also referred to a variety of services in the community such as food and legal assistance, emergency housing, and counseling. The center has therapists from the University of Nebraska Psychology Department Project SAFE and Lutheran Family Services available on-site for all victims.
With over three decades of experience as a victim's advocate specializing in minor children and their non-offending parents, Lynn has helped lead a great number of children and families toward healing and justice. She states that the job is very demanding and can be draining. She states, "It's sometimes difficult to walk out the door...