Officials continue to look at ways to improve child safety in the Mankato metro with work on a Child Advocacy Center that is expected to be in full operation this year, which aims to improve efficiency during child abuse investigations.

Blue Earth County Attorney Pat McDermott says a partnership with Mayo Clinic Health System has helped avoid shuffling victims of abuse from agency to agency.

“So it’s about providing these services, making sure that these kids are dealt with and their issues are dealt with. Because if we don’t deal with them today, they’re gonna manifest into something that’s going to cost us from a societal standpoint, a lot of money down the road.”

Instead of children having to talk to numerous people that include child protection services, law enforcement and the school district, the child is taken to the center at a central location.

“Hopefully within two months, we will have the physical location up and going. We were fortunate enough to receive a grant through the Office of Justice Programs. We’re dealing with that. In the last couple weeks  I’ve had conversations with individuals with the Mankato Area Foundation. There’s very good response in the community in support of this.”

The 165-thousand dollar grant to the partnership was awarded in 2017 to help get the Center up and running.

McDermott says the final intention is to turn the advocacy center into a standalone non-profit.

“What my theory has been for the last three years is we’ll get this up and going and we get to a point, then we’ll hand off the keys. But we still have to do what our core functions are, this is to help make sure that we can benefit those kids and their families. Because it’s the collateral consequences of many of these things that we don’t deal with.”

Child Advocacy Centers in Minnesota provide services to more than 25-hundred children, according to 2015 data.