FARGO - The Red River Children's Advocacy Center will receive $300,000 over three years from United Way of Cass-Clay to increase the center's mental health services, the organizations announced Wednesday, May 9.
The Children's Advocacy Center, or CAC, provides trauma screening and forensic interviews for children who have suffered abuse or neglect. It also helps with investigation, prosecution and prevention, said Nicola Herting, the center's mental health director.
United Way will give the CAC $100,000 a year for three years starting in 2019. The new partnership is meant to improve and increase mental health resources and accessibility for the victims and their families, according to Thomas Hill, community impact director for United Way.
The goal is to "fill existing gaps in services and ... reduce barriers," Hill said.
The CAC services will be provided at no cost for victims' families, Hill and Herting said.
The money will also go toward hiring another mental health expert and developing existing trauma-specific screenings and evidence-based treatments, which are thoroughly researched methods designed to work for specific problems and age groups.
If the CAC cannot provide in-house treatment, Herting said, it refers victims and their families to treatments that meet their financial and health needs.
The partnership will help the most vulnerable in the community, Hill said.
The announcement comes shortly after three cases of child abuse resulting in death occurred in the region in April, although the partnership isn't a reaction to those cases, according to a United Way spokesperson.
Six-year-old Justis Burland died April 2 in Fergus Falls, Minn., after suffering from ongoing abuse, court documents show.
On April 10, 3-year-old Winter Barker was found dead at his father's apartment in Breckenridge, Minn. Court documents stated autopsy results show he died of chemical peritonitis due to his stomach being perforated by blunt-force trauma, and the autopsy ruled his death a homicide.
Later that month, an 8-month-old, whose name authorities did not release, drowned in the bathtub at his father's apartment in Fargo, court documents stated. The father was later charged with manslaughter and child neglect.
Arrests have been made in all three cases.