Little Fork Family Advocacy Center could be groundbreaking approach in Clermont County

CLERMONT COUNTY, Ohio -- As an assistant prosecutor, Scott O'Reilly has seen how a cycle of violence and addiction can tear down generations of families in Clermont County.

He also thinks the county has a chance to help end it.

That's the vision for the Little Fork Family Advocacy Center: a place where specialist can address problems such as domestic violence, physical and sexual abuse, suicide and drug addiction. All can be interconnected, but there's currently no comprehensive approach in Clermont County -- or even Ohio -- to tackle them in one place.

For now, it's just a field of dreams in need of funding. Supporters say the approach could be groundbreaking.

"I think for too long in this community, and really across the country, people try to approach very difficult problems with one little shot," O'Reilly said. "I mean, these problems a lot of times are all-encompassing and many times generational."

he campus, envisioned for a vacant lot along Bauer Road, would have a space where people can go for counseling and treatment, and where government staff would work on family cases.

A separate YWCA emergency shelter would have eight to 10 private bedrooms, with space for up to 20 people. There'd also be shared spaces like a children's play room, TV room, library, kitchen, fitness area, outdoor playset, gardens and all-weather kennel for small pets. People living there would have space to meet with staff in private and a conference room for group meetings.

Plans also call for an on-campus community center.

Heidi Malott, manager of the Mayerson Center for Safe and Healthy Children, said there's a need to have services where children live. And the need in Clermont County is great.

"In the last three years we've seen close to 500 children and families from Clermont County, so that's asking them in a time of crisis to navigate their way Downtown," Malott said.

The YWCA already has a domestic violence center in Clermont County, but it's too small. Jessy Lyons, director of residential domestic violence services, said the YWCA shelter could only accept about two-thirds of the people calling its hotline last year. The organization still works to find a safe place for survivors elsewhere.

"What this center in essence is hoping to do is create a place for justice, hope and healing for families touched by this violence," O'Reilly said.

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