HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - When the National Children's Advocacy Center in Huntsville was established 30 years ago, limited resources created the need for Madison County employees to provide several functions for the center.
The advocacy center evolved in essence without a model to copy for its unprecedented community role. As a result of that evolution the county commission has remained involved in certain employee-related functions for the center including payroll and employee benefits administration.
"We've had a long-standing relationship with the Madison County district attorney's office since Bud Cramer was the DA,"explains Advocacy Center Executive Director Chris Newlin. "He had the idea to start this innovative program that was going to eventually revolutionize our nation's response to child abuse."
But the advocacy center has come a long way from the brain-child of former district attorney Bud Cramer back when there was no entity dedicated to protecting children.
During Wednesday's commission meeting commissioners approved a resolution toward the goal of identifying roles the commission will continue to provide for the center while delineating responsibilities they should now be able to handle on their own.
Madison County will still provide in-kind services of payroll and benefits administration but will allow the center to handle employee decisions like hiring, supervising and termination and they bear the financial responsibility for payroll and fringe benefits, according to the resolution.
Chris Newlin explains the resolution is really just a way to define the ongoing relationship the NCAC has with the county.
"What we do in our daily work is very much integrated within local government because of the multidisciplinary team response to child abuse," Newlin points out.
That team response includes the NCAC housing of Madison County sheriff's deputies and district attorney offices on the advocacy center campus.
This advocacy center is a study in successful social entrepreneurship. Much like Madison County got behind the tough task of putting man on the moon, they also championed the protection of children. This, through an ongoing partnership between the county, law enforcement, prosecutors, mental health and medical professionals as well as victim advocates.
"This community I think has a lot to be proud of as being a role model for protecting children," finishes Newlin.
There are now 850 Children's Advocacy Center's nationwide modeled after the flagship campus in Huntsville - with CACs operating in 19 countries all over the world. Last year Children's Advocacy Centers served more than 293,000 children.