Macoupin among five counties in UCAN

Macoupin among five counties in UCAN

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Macoupin County, along with Jersey, Montgomery, Greene and Calhoun counties, recently formed the Unified Child Advocacy Network (UCAN).

According to the group’s Facebook page,  “Our mission is to serve, protect, and advocate for children affected by sexual abuse and serious physical abuse and to educate our communities.”

The organization is funded with grants through the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS). The VOCA grant is federal money that is funneled through the state. The DCFS grant is state money that is earmarked and cannot be directed elsewhere. Along with pursuing more grants, the group also accepts private and public donations and will fundraise.

A need arose in Macoupin County when the DCFS office no longer had office space at Locust Street Resource Center in Carlinville. A safe place was needed where victims of child abuse could be taken, cared for and interviewed.

According to Executive Director Sharon Clagg, the organization will provide services such as forensic interviewing and advocacy services, including referrals to families, known victims and caregivers for counseling.

“As of July 1, we went off on our own. We were partnered with the state Child Advocacy Centers (CAC) office and they were the go-between to get it up on its feet,” said Clagg.

Currently, the group is governed by a board of directors, which includes Hillsboro Mayor and President Brian Sullivan, Carlinville Mayor and Treasurer Deanna Demuzio, Secretary Kim Noyes, Lisa Schuenke and Blackburn President John Comerford. An effort is underway to expand the board’s membership.

The group, which will hold monthly meetings, is establishing offices in Carlinville, Hillsboro, Jerseyville and Carrollton. The offices will be used to establish a safe place to which children involved in abusive situations can be taken at any time of day by qualified counselors.

The Jerseyville office opened on July 3. Lease negotiations are still in progress for an office at 205 Oakland Avenue, Carlinville.

Anyone interested in making donations of office furniture or financial contributions should contact Deanna Demuzio at (217) 556-3712.