The Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention, also known as the Children’s Trust Fund, presented a check at the Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement headquarters. Representatives were also on hand from FIRST Family Services Center and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Northeast Alabama.
State legislators Rep. Steve Hurst, Rep. Ron Johnson and Sen. Jim Preuitt attended the presentation.
Johnson said the programs were a necessary part of the community.
“All the programs run out of (SAFE), the BRIDGES program, the HIPPY program, it’s stuff that needs to be done.” Johnson said. “It’s money well spent. These people don’t waste money. They don’t spend it on salary; everything goes directly to the people that need services.”
SAFE director Margaret Morton said they received a total of $75,000 from Children’s Trust Fund. The grant for FIRST totaled $27,500. Valerie Shannon, program administrator for Big Brothers/Big Sisters, said their portion would be $15,000.
Shannon said the money will allow the group to help children in Talladega County.
“This funding will support helping children in the community by providing them with a caring role model and mentor,” she said. “Typically they will spend time with them once a week doing fun activities, either at school or out in the community.”
Milton Jackson, field director for Children’s Trust Fund, said groups are chosen for grants each year that best fit the mission of his organization.
“The Children’s Trust Fund and Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention is really the only child abuse prevention there is in the state,” Jackson said. “Our key word is prevention. Through grants that are awarded throughout the state, such as after-school programs, mentoring programs, we try to prevent child abuse from happening.”
Laura Dalton of FIRST said the grant will provide funding for the in-home parenting program and the “Building Blocks” program.
“Building Blocks is a hospital visitation program in conjunction with Citizens Baptist Hospital,” she said. “Our parent educator goes in to Citizens three times a week and meets with the new moms, signs them up for the free program, and then every other month they get a mail out with information relevant to where they’re at right then.”
Preuitt said SAFE and other programs like it are needed in tough economic times, especially during the holidays.
“The overall program here is very important due to the fact there’s been so many job losses,” Preuitt said. “You see some of the adult people here training for jobs. It’s a good time for it.”