LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners on Wednesday approved applying for a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant on behalf of the Greater Lakes Child Advocacy Center which would enable the center to purchase and renovate the building at 95 Water Street which it moved into last year.
The building is owned by the Granite United Way and was formerly the main office for the Lakes Region United Way, which merged with Granite United Way several years ago.
The approval came following a public hearing at which Donna Lane, who is helping to prepare the grant request for the center, told commissioners that the project is also applying for Community Development Finance Authority state business tax credits, which can be purchased by businesses and would reduce the amount of funding needed to complete the project.
Lane recently told commissioners that normally the CDBG request would have been made to Laconia but the city has already made a request for a $500,000 block grant for another project, which uses up its allotment for the current cycle.
The center is part of a statewide network of advocacy centers which helps young victims of physical and sexual abuse and has been located in Laconia since 2006.
Director Meghan Noyes said that last year the center handled 225 investigations of physical or sexual assaults involving children in the Lakes Region area.
The GLCAC coordinates child abuse investigations using a multi-disciplinary team approach. Professionals from law enforcement, child protective services, victim advocacy, the GLCAC, the Belknap County Attorney's Office, and medical/mental health professionals join together at the Child Advocacy Center to investigate child abuse and provide best practice care to children and their families. Children are interviewed by one person in a child-friendly, neutral environment by trained Child Advocacy Center staff. The child and family receive on-site support services and referrals to appropriate community resources.
Lane has previously told the commissioners that the deadline for the grant applications is July and that the funds are awarded on a competitive basis. She said that if the request is approved, the funds would be available by early next year.
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