New Child Advocacy Center Opens at ATU

Susan Hutchinson, first lady of Arkansas, and Dr. Robin E. Bowen, president of Arkansas Tech University, were among those on hand for an opening ceremony and ribbon cutting for the River Valley Child Advocacy Center (RVCAC) in Russellville on Wednesday, May 23.

The RVCAC provides a safe space for children who are possible victims of abuse or neglect to be interviewed by the proper authorities.

The center was made possible through a memorandum of understanding signed by the RVCAC Board of Directors and ATU in October 2017.

“I’m very thankful for you and your active board,” said Hutchinson. “That’s the only way a child advocacy center can fully serve the children and the community to bridge that gap with law enforcement, investigators and prosecutors to see that justice truly is done for the children. This changes lives. These children will live longer, they’ll be healthier, they’ll avoid incarceration…they’ll avoid so many things because we intervened and used our skills. The strength of any community or any state is her people, and you are making Arkansas a stronger and better place to live because you are helping the people.”

As a result of the MOU, the RVCAC will have access to the Crabaugh House on the ATU campus in Russellville and be able to coordinate interviews there on an as-needed basis.

“ATU is pleased to collaborate with the River Valley Child Advocacy Center board on this project,” said Bowen. “We also extend appreciation to our many partners in the law enforcement and judicial communities. By combining the expertise of these dedicated individuals and organizations, we have taken a step to provide children with comfort and support under the most trying of circumstances.”

Bowen also drew attention to the connection between one of the namesakes for the Crabaugh House, the late Marge Crabaugh, and her lifelong dedication to children.

Crabaugh founded the local chapters of the Salvation Army, United Way, Girl Scouts of the United States of America and Junior Auxiliary. She was the inaugural Russellville citizen of the year when the Russellville Area Chamber of Commerce founded the award in 1983.

“Today is a time to remember the spirit of Marge Crabaugh,” said Bowen. “Children in the Arkansas River Valley never had a better friend. I never had the privilege of meeting Marge Crabaugh, but like many of you I am inspired by her example and I am pleased that her home will serve this noble cause.”

Additional speakers at the opening event included Marilyn Sanders, RVCAC executive director; and David Gibbons, Fifth Judicial District prosecuting attorney.

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