Tuesday, May 22, 2018

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Graphic courtesy of: Athens County Child Advocacy Center

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Child-advocacy organization and Ohio University form partnership to serve at-risk children

Ohio University’s College of Health Sciences and Professions (CHSP) has taken on another community partner in its widening effort to improve the health and well-being of families in rural southeast Ohio.

CHSP has taken over administrative supervision of the Athens County Child Advocacy Center, a nonprofit organization that provides services for child sexual abuse victims and their families. This week, Rebecca Robinson-Miller begins work as manager of the center’s day-to-day activities. Her position will also entail connecting CHSP’s students with service-learning opportunities at the center, and she will eventually teach courses in child and family studies within the college.

Miller called the center’s relationship with the university unique.

“There are no other (child-advocacy center) programs in the country currently partnering with a university,” she said. “So there is opportunity for this program to become a model for other academic communities. I hope to ensure the programming is progressive and innovative.”

The partnership aligns with the Athens County Child Advocacy Center’s overall goal of minimizing the stress for children and families while maximizing the quality of investigations in sexual abuse cases. The center’s coordination of services allows children and their families to receive immediate assistance and remain engaged in treatment and prosecution.

“The partnership will expand the array of services available for children and families,” said Sheila Shafer, president of the center’s board of directors. “Community professionals in child welfare, law enforcement, mental health, prosecution, victim advocacy and medical services will collaborate with Ohio University educators and students in assuring that Athens County children receive the support necessary when they are in need.”

For CHSP, the partnership will provide students majoring in nursing, social work, and child and family studies with service-learning opportunities, internships and practicum experiences. It will also provide faculty members with opportunities to conduct community-based research.  

The community partnership is the second that CHSP has taken on in the past six months. In September, the college took over administration of Athens Student Action, a local organization that matches Ohio University students with volunteer opportunities. CHSP also operates Kids on Campus, a university-community organization that provides summer and afterschool programming for children who are economically or academically at risk.

Jody Grenert is communication director of Ohio University's College of Health Sciences and Professions.