A child advocacy center has opened in Hooper Bay and will serve children there and in the nearby villages of Scammon Bay and Chevak.
The Bay Haven Child Advocacy Center opened Tuesday, May 16. It is part of the Bay Haven Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Shelter, which opened in mid-2020.
The center came to fruition from a partnership between the Rural Alaska Community Action Program (RurAL CAP) and local Tribes.
Jan Olson is the Tribal Administrator for the Native Village of Hooper Bay. He said having the youth center in Hooper Bay will help address abuse or other serious issues locally.
“In the past, anything that happened to a child, you know, whether it be physical abuse, or in some instances there was sexual abuse, and there was nowhere else for the child to go but into Bethel,” Olson said.
The combined child center and shelter provides the three communities with resources for residents who have experienced domestic violence and sexual assault.
Olson said that is important, because when a child previously had to travel to Bethel and back for services – and had to recount their trauma multiple times – it was triggering.
“Having a child to tell their story over and over, that’s just reliving their trauma,” he said.
Renovation of the four-room facility located in Hooper’s Bay’s Sea Lion Building was completed in April. Space was donated by the Sea Lion Corporation.
Olson couldn’t disclose the total amount of grant money received for the project, but he said it was substantial. Olson said the grant process was confidential in nature.
“We spoke with our Native corporation, along with RurAL CAP to see if we could partner up and start doing some grant writing,” Olson said. “We reached out, to see if we could help each other out, to try to open up the Bay Haven and then the child advocacy center later, so that’s how it all got started.”
According to a RurAL CAP press release, the center will provide aftercare and survivor groups which embrace cultural values and holistic approaches as children and families heal.
Image at top: The Bay Haven Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Shelter in Hooper Bay. Photo courtesy RurAL CAP