Lincoln Times News: New state budget includes additional funding for child advocacy centers

In my time in the North Carolina General Assembly I have prioritized helping those in need of help the most. Today's Lincoln Times News highlights one area where we've accomplished a lot: child advocacy centers. 

At a meeting of executive directors of child advocacy centers across North Carolina held last Tuesday in Raleigh, Lincoln County Child Advocacy Center executive director Sherry Reinhardt learned the that new North Carolina legislative changes increased annual child advocacy center funding from $24,200 to $50,000 to each CAC in good standing across North Carolina.

“It brings us in line with all other sexual assault and domestic violence agencies who have always got $50,000 but child advocacy centers have never reached that goal to where we were recognized,” Reinhardt said. “The year before we went from $12,000 to $24,200.”

This increase in funding was introduced in House Bill 897, which was co-sponsored by Lincoln County state Rep. Jason Saine. HB 897 was not passed by the Senate, but the funding was included in the larger budget bill and passed both houses and was ratified, according to Saine.

Making sure that our child advocacy centers across the state receive proper funding has been a priority for me while serving in Raleigh,” Saine said in an email. “Through Sherry Reinhardt and her staff at the Lincoln County Coalition Against Child Abuse and Child Advocacy Center, I have come to appreciate the services they provide. By working with my colleagues on both sides, we have been able to increase funding in several consecutive budgets and ultimately help law enforcement and child advocacy centers staff in prosecution of those who have abused children.”

Saine said that, as the father of a 9 year old, it is hard for him to imagine that anyone could hurt a child intentionally, much less sexually and physically abuse them. Saine has known Reinhardt for many years and when he realized he could assist child advocacy centers across the state after losing funding through the federal sequestration, he wanted to do all that he could.

“Fifty thousand dollars is like a million dollars for us,” Reinhardt said. “I’m going to use the extra money to help us provide medical services to our victims.”

Human trafficking is also becoming a pressing problem in North Carolina and those executive directors that attended the meeting were provided with information and tools to help combat this new form of child abuse.

The Lincoln County Child Advocacy Center will be upgraded to a new database with grant funding provided by the Duke Endowment. All services for this database will also be covered by the Duke Endowment for three years.

“This is going to work out better for all child advocacy centers across North Carolina,” Reinhardt said. “It’s much more user friendly for us because we are much more diverse in our funding in North Carolina. We have lots of grants and sources and all of them want things reported to quantify.”

This new software is provided by Child Advocacy Centers CareNet and offers reporting, documentation, client management, grant writing and grant management features.

In addition, the new North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission executive director, Caroline Valand, was introduced at the meeting and gave updates on grants and grant cycles.

Thank you to Lincoln County Child Advocacy Center and Sherry Reinhardt for all your service to Lincoln County.