SWICACC transforming Fifth Street school

Photo provided by SWICACC

By Herald Staff

JASPER — The Southwestern Indiana Child Advocacy Center Coalition is launching their project to transform Fifth Street Elementary School into a regional resiliency center to serve Southwestern Indiana. Dubbed Center on 5th, the resiliency center will expand SWICACC’s work, bringing together nonprofits, mental health and medical services, advocacy, and investigators to wrap services around children who have been victims of child maltreatment and their families.

SWICACC obtained the 1990 addition of Fifth Street Elementary School from Greater Jasper Consolidated Schools earlier this year and is conducting a capital campaign to fund the project. The project will roll out in three phases. Phase one is underway and will cover the separation of the two portions of Fifth Street School, enclosing the east side of the Center on 5th, and core and shell work. Phase two will involve facility operations and the HVAC system, and phase three will add the training facility.

“GJCS values community partnerships that foster the development of resources and support services for our students," said Greater Jasper Superintendent Tracy Lorey. "SWICACC’s vision of a resiliency center is a perfect fit for our community needs and the unoccupied portion of Fifth Street Elementary provides a viable and accessible location. We are grateful to play a small part in bringing this idea to fruition for the betterment of the children of our community."

SWICACC is the nonprofit child advocacy center serving children and families in Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Martin, Orange, Perry, and Spencer counties. Partnering with investigators of child maltreatment, SWICACC provides the forensic interviews for children reported to be victims of abuse. SWICACC has served 1,888 children in the last five years, 323 of those in 2020. Of all the criminal cases referred to a SWICACC center in 2020, over 60% resulted in criminal charges.

"Our children are our most important assets," Senior Judge William Weikert said. "They often need our help, especially if they have suffered from abuse. As Juvenile Court Judge for many years, it was common to see youths who had acted out and committed delinquent acts because the abuse they suffered as a younger child was never addressed. If addressed early, these children can grow up without the scars of being victimized."

Center on 5th will enable SWICACC to expand services, have staff office space, expand programming through on-site treatment for mental health and medical forensic exams, as well as a training facility for investigators, youth workers and the community. In the new space, SWICACC will be able to conduct multiple forensic interviews at the same time, especially important when sibling groups come in for interviews. Center on 5th will also allow multiple nonprofit organizations that share the vision of better outcomes for youth to be in one location.

“The opportunity to be in the Center on 5th will allow for Mentors for Youth to expand services to our volunteers and youth in Dubois County,” Mentors for Youth Director Ellen Corn said.

This project has received tremendous support from community members and multiple non-profits have come forward interested in taking advantage of this new resource.

“With the Center on 5th, SWICACC will continue the tradition of providing a safe place for children that Greater Jasper built on Fifth Street," SWICACC Executive Director Tammy Lampert said. "With continued community support, SWICACC and our partners will continue to build safer communities for safer kids."

If you want to be involved with SWICACC or this project, email Lampert at swicacc@gmail.com.

More on DuboisCountyHerald.com