By Mark Johnson
“The only way that we can move forward is by taking away the silence. Silence and fear are every perpetrator’s greatest weapons.”
Those are the words of Toby Stark, executive director for Chaucie’s Place. Chaucie’s Place, which is based in Carmel, is a child advocacy center which focuses on the prevention of child sexual abuse. Assistance in taking away those weapons has arrived. On Aug. 13, it was announced that Chaucie’s Place would be awarded a contract from the Indiana Dept. of Child Services for prevention programs in Central Indiana.
In a press release, DCS regional manager Dan Brumfield explained the grant and the benefits of the collaboration agencies.
“No organization or community agency can combat child abuse and neglect single-handedly. To that end, the Dept. of Child Services is awarding more than $300,000. to fund prevention programs in Hamilton, Hancock, Madison and Tipton counties,” he stated. “This year, DCS will be partnering with many local agencies, including Chaucie’s Place, as we realize the tremendous benefit these partnerships bring to families in crisis.”
“This is insanely good news,” Stark said of the grant from DCS. “It means that we will have the means to reach more children, more families with prevention messages. We’re all about being proactive.”
Jon Bennett, the executive vice president of Children’s Bureau, Inc. , also is looking forward to the collaboration.
“As a staff with the Children’s Bureau Inc. and a Community Partners for Child Safety provider, we are in unique position to work closely with local community providers serving as the funding steward of the Dept. of Child Services prevention funding which is used to address identified prevention services on a local level. Chaucie’s Place is one of those partners benefiting from funding approved by Region 11 DCS to address those early prevention services to children and families. Partnerships like these create a network of services to prevent child abuse and neglect on a community, regional and state level,” Bennet said.
The story of the grant began last April when Stark met Brumfield at a candlelight vigil for child sexual abuse.
“I met Dan Brumfield, and we had a very positive conversation about working in the arena for prevention,” Stark said. “Dan attended one of our fundraisers in June. So, this new relationship is monumental because we have a real opportunity to work cooperatively.”
The story of Chaucie Quillen is heart-wrenching tale. Quillen, a Carmel resident, was a gifted student and athlete. At the age of 18, Quillen revealed that she had been sexually abused by her father since the age of 11. Although Quillen’s father was eventually convicted of sexual battery, the emotional strain proved to be too much for Quillen. Sadly, on Dec. 26, 1995, less than four months after her 21st birthday, she took her own life. Chaucie’s Place, which is at 4607 E. 106th St, was established in 2001.
“Every decision, move we make honors Chaucie’s legacy and is intended to protect our children,” Stark said. “Nothing less is acceptable.”
The main objective of Chaucie’s Place is to get the “messages of prevention” to the community. “Three years ago, we shifted our focus to prevention. Primary prevention-reaching children and parents before a situation occurs – that’s where you have the biggest impact,” Stark said. “We do a lot of training with school systems, reviewing legal responsibilities. We work with administration, faculty/staff, parents and students.”
Part of that focus is the newest program, Lifelines, a youth suicide prevention program.
Stark credits much of the success of Chaucie’s Place to the residents of Hamilton County.
“We could not possibly reach the numbers we have without the people of Hamilton County. I am so proud of the Hamilton County Community. They don’t see child sexual abuse as a problem in some other community. Child sexual abuse does not discriminate, and we are all mandated reporters.”
To learn more about Chaucie’s Place, visit www.chauciesplace.org.