Canopy Children’s Solutions is excited to announce the opening of a second location of the South Mississippi Child Advocacy Center. The new site is located in Pascagoula to help centralize access to services for constituents in George, Greene and Jackson Counties. Staff at the Jackson County Center will also be on-hand to assist with initiatives and overflow of cases served through the Harrison County Center in Gulfport.
“Nearly half of the forensic interviews we conducted last year came from Jackson, George and Greene Counties, which highlights the need for opening an office in Jackson County. Prior to opening our new office in Pascagoula, families had to travel to our Gulfport location to disclose abuse and access support,” said Krystle Hilliard, program director for South Mississippi Child Advocacy Center. “Having another site that is centrally located in our service area helps lessen the burden on our families to get help. Having greater availability to serve our community in this capacity allows us to offer more hope to the hopeless, comfort to the comfortless, and replace pain and sorrow with joy and happiness.”
The new center is located at 706 Watts Avenue in Pascagoula. A ribbon cutting and open house was held on January 21, to introduce the location to the community and raise awareness of what the center does for abused and neglected children on the Gulf Coast. More than 75 individuals attended.
“As a District Attorney on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, I am ecstatic about Canopy’s new location for the South Mississippi Child Advocacy Center in Jackson County. This beautiful place will allow for the expansion of critical services and the ability to reach more children at their most vulnerable moments in life,” said Joel Smith, who serves as District Attorney for Harrison, Hancock and Stone Counties and works closely with SMCAC. “Canopy has been an invaluable partner in the battle against child abuse and I look forward to seeing that partnership deepen across the Gulf Coast as a result of this new facility and their work in supporting our children.”
In 2019, Canopy’s SMCAC conducted 837 forensic interviews on the Mississippi Gulf Coast with suspected child abuse victims. It averages four interviews each day. From those victims and their families, they made 510 referrals to mental health professionals and 410 referrals for medical examinations to help the families gain the evidence and support they needed to move forward from their trauma. In conjunction, staff provided advocacy services in 1,356 instances including preparation for trial, updates on investigations, therapy, court testimony and more. Staff at SMCAC work closely with local law enforcement, child protection services, the district attorney’s office, local health providers and various partners along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
ABOUT CANOPY CHILDREN’S SOLUTIONS For more than 100 years, Canopy has provided innovative solutions to many of Mississippi’s most vulnerable youth through a comprehensive continuum of behavioral health, educational, and social service solutions. Learn more at mycanopy.org or call 800.388.6247.
ABOUT SOUTH MISSISSIPPI CHILD ADVOCACY CENTER: SMCAC became part of Canopy Children’s Solutions in 2015. The center provides forensic interviews and healing services for children involved in allegations of physical or sexual abuse, neglect, or who may have witnessed a violent crime. Staff works closely with a multidisciplinary team including law enforcement and local prosecutors to help bring families justice and closure.