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Big changes for Children’s Advocacy Center

The Children’s Advocacy Center of Butler County, previously known as the Butler County Alliance for Children, has a new director, Danielle Schmidt. Submitted photo

The Children’s Advocacy Center of Butler County, previously known as the Butler County Alliance for Children, is starting 2022 with some new changes.

The organization underwent a rebranding effort, and named a new executive director, long-time volunteer and past board member Danielle Schmidt, who hopes to bring her over 20 years of experience working with children and families in social services to the role.

“As executive director, my role is primarily one of stewardship. I work closely with the board of directors and staff to ensure our programming and services best serve our clients, while supporting our staff and partners in their work,” Schmidt said in a statement.

“I am eager to be in our community, raising awareness about child sexual abuse, child abuse prevention, human trafficking and the critical work of the Children’s Advocacy Center and our multidisciplinary partners — not only mitigating the impact of abuse for children, but working diligently to empower our community to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of children and families.”

Schmidt previously has worked as a case manager at Totin Family Services, and as a case manager at Butler Health System with Family Services and Maternal Services, where she conducted psycho-social assessments and led a teen parenting program.

She has also worked at Bethany Christian Services as a foster care worker, and most recently at the Butler County Housing and Redevelopment Authority as the assistant director of Grant Management and Resident Services.

“I have always been someone that wanted to help people, especially kids,” Schmidt said. “When I was at Family Services of Butler Memorial Hospital and worked with the teen parenting program, that’s when I found my passion. In that role, I learned that I enjoyed helping families through difficult times—connecting them to resources and supporting them—it turned out to be what I loved and wanted to keep doing.”

Schmidt also worked as a doula.

“My work with teen parents led me to become a doula,” Schmidt said. “I was with many teen moms while they were going through pregnancy and delivery, and it just felt right.”

Until appointment as executive director, Schmidt was a board member for the Children’s Advocacy Center.

“When I started working for the Housing and Redevelopment Authority, I wasn’t as involved with children and families in the community as my previous roles, and I missed that,” Schmidt said. “I’ve always believed in the mission of the Children’s Advocacy Center and being on the board of directors allowed me to give back and participate.”

New name

The center recently underwent a rebranding effort after the first of the year, changing its name to line up with the national model of children’s advocacy centers that provide similar services. The national model guides members of the child’s investigative team to come together to provide a victim-focused approach to investigations of abuse.

Schmidt emphasized that the name and logo change did not mean the center was changing its approach.

“Nothing has changed as far as the work that we do or the services, it’s just the name to make it a little more clear,” she said. “The previous name was just a little bit confusing. This lets people know what we do a little bit more.”

The Children’s Advocacy Center provides a safe environment for children to speak with forensic interviewers who are training to talk with children about possible abuse. The collaborative approach minimizes trauma to the child victim and their non-offending caregiver while providing support to the multidisciplinary team throughout the investigative process.

The center offers a number of programs, including victim advocacy in collaboration with the Victim Outreach Intervention Center (VOICe), forensic medical evaluations and treatment for children identified as potential victims of child abuse, mental health services and referrals, and professional and community training and prevention programs.