By Elizabeth Wentz
More than 3 million reports of child abuse are made annually in the United States, according to www.childhelp.org. All too often, these children are left to fend for themselves as they filter through the court system, scared and alone facing stranger after stranger, unsure of who to trust and how much of the truth to tell. One Cobb County entity is attempting to change that grim reality, one child at a time.
A not-for-profit agency initially established in 1985, SafePath Children’s Advocacy Center, Inc. opened its doors and its arms to the Cobb County community in 1995. Since then, SafePath has served more than 10,000 children and families in Cobb County as they navigate the aftermath of abuse. Children come to SafePath seeking a safe, child-centered environment to receive support and services. Located at SafePath provides a central location for children and their non-offending caregivers to meet and work with professionals from law enforcement, the district attorney’s office, therapists, healthcare professionals, DFACS and related agencies. Offering all services in a protected environment aids in lessening the trauma experienced by innocent victims of abuse.
The mission of SafePath is to “reduce the trauma to children and their families by offering a comprehensive, professional and child-friendly approach to allegations of child abuse” while also educating the Cobb County community to better protect children. Education is done through site visits, community outreach, annual fundraisers and the Darkness to Light program. Darkness to Light is an adult-focused workshop that members of the SafePath staff present to church, community and civic organizations.
“If we educate enough adults in our community, the community will stop tolerating abuse,” said Jinger Robins, SafePath’s executive director.
When children are involved in allegations of abuse, SafePath provides a safe, child-centered environment where children and non-offending caregivers can receive support and services from DFACS, the police department and other involved parties.
Recently, SafePath was recognized with the 2010 Outstanding Agency Award from the Georgia Association of Homes and Services for Children. Governor Nathan Deal also visited SafePath the weekend before his January inauguration as part of his Great Day of Service. Funding for SafePath’s programs is entirely through donations, grants, community-based partners and annual fundraisers. The largest of which is the annual black tie dinner and auction, Hearing Children’s Voices, which will be held this year on March 19 at the Cobb Energy Centre. For tickets and sponsorship opportunities, visit the SafePath website at www.supportsafepath.org.
SafePath is located at 736 Whitlock Avenue, Suite 600, Marietta, GA 30064. For more information on any of SafePath’s programs and ways to help the organization, visit their website at www.supportsafepath.com or call 770-801-3465.
This article also appears in the February 2011 print edition of EAST COBBER.