Grants available to fund an Upper Peninsula children’s advocacy center

little girl is afraid of shadow of tree

By JEFF MAKI

Journal Staff Intern

MARQUETTE — Organizations in the Upper Peninsula can now apply for grants totaling $1 million with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for funding the development of a children’s advocacy center, or CAC.

While Michigan has 21 such centers, there are none in the U.P.

A CAC creates a network with various programs and services such as therapists and law enforcement involved in cases of child victims of crime. Children who go to a CAC are welcomed to a neutral facility that disseminates their information to all the resources needed for recovery and a resolution to the crime, said Lynn Sutfin, public information officer at MDHHS.

“The advocacy programs offer the child a chance to come and tell their story one time so they don’t have to relive the trauma again and again,” Sutfin said.

Any nonprofit organization or public agency that provides direct services in child care can apply for the grants, with the minimum grant being $50,000. Groups with forensic interviewers and those with child interview protocol training, as well as therapists, case managers and counselors for children, are potentially eligible.

Leslie O’Reilly, program specialist of victim services at MDHHS, said for a CAC to complete the accreditation process might take 18 months. Programs that need to be built from the ground up will take longer, but some communities have already begun work on developing a CAC, O’Reilly said.

“A lot of work has been done in Marquette,” O’Reilly said.

The funding for this grant comes from the Victims of Crime Act under the U.S. Department of Justice. VOCA, established in 1984, uses money from criminal fines and penalties paid by convicted federal offenders to fund programs aimed at helping victims of crime.

Any organization that wishes to apply for the child advocacy development grant should go online to egrams-mi.com and navigate to the “legal and policy affairs” section to find the application link. Questions about the grant and the application process can be emailed to MDHHS-CVSC-VOCA-GRANTS@michigan.gov by 5 p.m. June 4. The deadline to submit applications is 3 p.m. June 21.