DAs hope Penn State fines fund child advocacy centers

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The Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association wants some of $60 million fine levied on Penn State by the NCAA to go toward funding and opening child advocacy centers.

Several members of the PDAA, as well as child advocates, announced Wednesday that the association has sent letters to Penn State and the NCAA advocating part of the endowment help fund child advocacy centers across the state.

Advocates said of 67 counties in Pennsylvania, only 20 currently have child advocacy centers. They are hoping, in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky tragedy, that a positive change will be brought about.

Victim advocate Jennifer Storm said the money would be very beneficial at a time when cuts are forcing centers to scale back and even shut down.

“Children in the commonwealth have been significantly harmed,” Storm said. “The only way to help them is to allocate more resources. If we don’t do that, more children will be harmed.”

Shawn Wagner, Adams County District Attorney and PDAA President, said supporting child advocacy centers is the ideal use of endowment funds.

“Children advocacy centers most effectively fulfill the NCAA’s endowment directives and will be the best use of their funds,” Wagner said.

Child advocacy centers help victims get resources, such as counseling and medical help, as well as help investigators bring their abusers to justice.

“Children’s advocacy centers and our Children’s Resource here in Dauphin County are at the forefront of new and effective ways of helping children navigate their way through the criminal justice system,” Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico said.

A timeframe of when endowment funds will be distributed has not been announced. Officials believe that Penn State and NCAA will make a joint decision as to who will get the money.

Other non-profits have also expressed interest in receiving the endowment funds.

The Pennsylvania Children and Youth Solicitors Association has been developing plans to build a child protection training center since before the Sandusky tragedy. The structure would house courtrooms, a mock house, and would give professionals a place to get hands-on training.

Spokesman Jason Kutulakis said such a facility would help professionals learn how to put the needs of victims first. He estimated the costs of building the facility around $6 million, and said it would likely be built in Dauphin County so it would be accessible to professionals across the state.

Jeannie Flitner – ABC27

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