FROM STAFF REPORTS
The Hill Country Children’s Advocacy Center provides needed services and resources for families and law enforcement across six counties, and it does it with a staff of dedicated people.
The center recently named Ken Nickel as its executive director. Nickel previously served as the Granite Shoals city manager before stepping down last year. The center has added other new faces over the past months who joined a staff that has been serving children and families for a number of years.
Hill Country Children’s Advocacy Center officials wanted to introduce the staff as well as touch on the mission of the center.
Working alongside Nickel are multidisciplinary team coordinator Glenda Hartman, development coordinator Lora Cheney, forensic interviewers Lana Luke and Kathryn Schroeder, family advocate Renae Feller, administrative assistant Karen Melton, program director Alyssa Mikell, therapist Lisa Carson, and education and outreach coordinator Kaylee Gaines.
The center provides services for families, children, and law enforcement. Following an accusation of abuse or neglect, a child in one of the counties the center serves can be brought to the center where a specially trained forensic interviewer will conduct an interview. The Hill Country Children’s Advocacy Center forensic interviewers use the latest techniques, child development knowledge, and linguistics to conduct an interview in one of the center’s age-appropriate rooms.
The center’s Burnet facility, known as the Sunshine House, is a child-friendly environment as opposed to a police station.
The interviews, which are recorded, can be observed by law enforcement and Child Protective Services investigators who are part of the center’s multidisciplinary team. By conducting interviews in this manner and using forensic interviewers, the number of times a child is interviewed is reduced.
Other services include forensic medical exams, community education, family advocacy and victim services, and counseling.
The counseling services are provided free for child victims, siblings, and non-offending family members.
A little more than 50 percent of the Hill Country Children’s Advocacy Center’s budget comes from state and federal grants and approximately 31 percent from fundraisers. The remaining funds come from individual, counties and cities, businesses, and organizations.
The Hill Country Children’s Advocacy Center’s next fundraiser is Designer Purse Bingo on March 30 at 11 a.m. at Horseshoe Bay Resort. Go to hccac.org for more information on the fundraiser or the center and its services.
Along with the staff, the center relies on a number of dedicated volunteers. More are always welcome. The center serves Burnet, Blanco, Llano, Mason, San Saba, and Lampasas counties.