County to ask for training grant

HOLLIDAYSBURG – Blair County is preparing to ask the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Assoc

iation for a $10,000 grant that will be used for training those who work

with sexually abused children.

Jackie Bernard, first deputy district attorney, told commissioners Tuesday that the grant, if awarded, must be used for training local police officers, caseworkers, victim advocates and first responders who deal with sexually abused children.

It will also be a step

forward for the Multidisciplinary Invest

igative Team (MDIT) that’s been developing over the past year and a potential child advocacy center in Blair County.

Commissioners, after quizzing Bernard about the responsibilities associated with the grant, indicated they will endorse the filing of the grant application.

“It sounds like a great project,” Commissioner Diane Meling said.

Meling asked about the administrative work involved with the grant, which includes the filing of financial reports detailing how the money was spent, in addition to related written reports.

Bernard said she would handle the written reports and may depend on the county’s finance department to track invoices for reports showing how the grant is spent.

But the county, Bernard said, would not be able to claim any part of the grant to cover the cost of such work because the grant specifically excludes salaries and salary reimbursements.

Bernard also told commissioners that she and several county leaders and employees have been working on the creation of an MDIT.

In Pennsylvania, multidisciplinary investigative teams have been recognized as an effective resource in child abuse investigations, which have attracted attention in the past two years because of the trial and conviction of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Child advocacy centers have also been identified as a valuable resource in addressing cases involving child abuse.

In some communities, Bernard said, the centers are used as a place where children are interviewed about what happened to them, while being observed from other locations.

The arrangement prevents the child from having to repeatedly relive the experience.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.