Avalon expands services for youth, victims of sex trafficking

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Two grants provided through the Victims of Crime Act fund have allowed Williamsburg's Avalon Center to expand existing services and launch a new Youth Services Program.

As the region's state-funded, state-accredited agency for domestic violence and sexual assault, Avalon serves more than 600 individuals each year through both an emergency campus and outreach office.

The Youth Services Program will operate from a separate location, at the Historic Triangle Community Services Center on Waller Mill Road, under direction of Avalon's Youth Services Director Crystal Skeeter-Davis.

The program, designed for children who are both primary and secondary victims of violence and crime, opened its new offices on Dec. 1 and will serve an estimated 250-300 youth each year throughout the ninth district.

With three positions filled and one still open, staff members will provide counseling, advocacy, crisis intervention, information and referral, visitation and custody exchange services and a summer camp.

"The new Youth Services will be filling a great need in the community for supervised visitation and custody exchange, as the legal community has indicated to us with much enthusiasm and support for the program," Skeeter-Davis said in a news release.

Priscilla Caldwell, development and communications director, said Avalon's Youth Services will introduce some programs into Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools in the new year.

The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), established in 1984, supports victims services with money accumulated from fines paid by offenders at the federal level.

Another VOCA grant, effective this past summer, allowed hire of a full-time children's counselor at Avalon's emergency shelter, as well as a high-trauma counseling specialist to work with sex-trafficking victims.

For more information, visit avaloncenter.org.

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