Gov. Kay Ivey recently awarded grants totaling $1.58 million to assist non-profit organizations that help sexual assault and child abuse victims in six counties.

“Victims, young and old, deserve access to assistance and advocacy tailored to their specific needs,” Ivey said. “I commend these organizations for helping victims and their families begin the healing process from the worst of events.”

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADCEA) Director Kenneth Boswell said ADECA administered the grants from funds made available by the U.S. Department of Justice. ADECA administers a wide range of programs that support law enforcement, economic development, infrastructure upgrades, recreation, energy conservation, water resource management, job training and career development, he said.

“I share Gov. Ivey’s commitment to helping all abuse victims, child or adult,” Boswell said. “ADECA’s partnerships with these organizations will help those who’ve been victimized find and receive the specialized care they need.”

Family Services of North Alabama (FSNA), of Marshall and DeKalb counties, plans to use a $261,673 grant to continue assisting victims. Through its North Alabama Sexual Assault Support Services (SASS) Program, FSNA provides direct services to victims of sexual assault, such as a 24/7 crisis line and intervention, legal and medical advocacy, and counseling and therapy by a contracted licensed therapist.

FSNA Director Sherrie Hiett said the grant would fund the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program. She said the SANE Program utilizes nurses who have been specially trained to provide comprehensive sexual assault exams. Tasha Galanty, SANE RN, is now a permanent member the FSNA team because of the funds from the ADECA grant, Hiett said. She said the nurses are competent in collection and documentation of forensic evidence, and the specialized trained nurses are qualified to appear in court as expert witnesses.

“We’re so excited about this grant,” Hiett said. “We want the SANE Program to continually grow and grow. We want to do a lot of community awareness, community trainings and law enforcement trainings. But, what we really want to do is get more into the Hispanic community and the Haitian community.”

Hiett said reaching the “underserved communities” is one of the top priorities for FSNA, and she plans to expand educational services to those communities.

“We want to let them know that we are a safe place,” Hiett said. “We don’t discriminate. We don’t care about your gender, your race, who you love or who you don’t love. If you need help, we’re going to be there.”

Another grant recipient was the National Children’s Advocacy Center who received $1 million in grant funds to continue providing services including forensic interviews, trauma-focused and evidence-based mental health treatment, specialized medical exams, family advocacy and waiting room support in DeKalb, Jackson, Madison, Marshall and Morgan counties. The other was the Children’s Advocacy of Cherokee County who received $244,193 in grant funds to continue providing services to child abuse victims and their families in Cherokee County.

Nickie Simpson is a staff writer at The Sand Mountain Reporter in Albertville.

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