Franklin Countys First News

Sexual assault prevention organization settling into new digs in old Ingalls building

Staff of SAPARS in the old Ingalls School building.

FARMINGTON - The staff of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services and the Children’s Advocacy Center held an open house for their recently renovated offices Wednesday, now located in the basement of the old Ingalls School building.

SAPARS, known for years as SAVES, provides services in three counties, including Franklin County. They are one of the first points of contact for the victims of sexual assault and their families. They maintain a 24-hour helpline and their advocates accompany people to hospitals, police stations and interface with mental health professionals. They also employ educators that work in the school systems, the community and on social media to work toward educating the public about how to prevent sexual violence. CAC is the children's equivalent of SAPARS, conducting interviews with children that may have been victimized by sexual or physical abuse. They work with a combination of law enforcement, social services and mental health providers.

Previously located in the Holman House on Main Street, SAPARS associate director Meagan Davis said that the offices, while pleasant, made it difficult to ensure there was always adequate space to maintain confidentiality. Also, working on the second floor, the offices were not handicap accessible.

On Halloween of last year, SAPARS and CAC moved into renovated office space in the basement of the old Ingalls School building. In addition to being roomier, the new space has the benefit of being in the same building as Tri-County Mental Health, which opens up additional resources within easy reach.

"We just try to bridge the gaps as best we can," Davis said.

The CAC section includes a waiting room for children and their families and a separate space where the child would be interviewed by a CAC forensic interviewer. If a referral is made by either a law enforcement agency or the Maine Department of Health & Human Services, a multi-disciplinary team is formed, consisting of professionals from law enforcement and prosecution, as well as social, mental and medical services, which help determine the next legal steps and possible services for the child. The system is designed, Davis said, so the child is hopefully only interviewed once.

The 24-hour helpline for SAPARS is 1-800-871-7741. Text support through the helpline and chat support through the website are both available Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The local office can be contacted about other programs at 778-9522.

SAPARS is looking to recruit teams for its annual Tri-County Softball fundraiser, which will be held on Saturday, Sept. 15 in Mechanic Falls beginning at 8 a.m. Refreshments will be served and a 50/50 raffle will be available.

Meagan Davis, associate director of SAPARS, in the CAC's new waiting area.

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