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MANKATO — The child advocacy center discussed by the Blue Earth County attorney in January received $165,000 in grant funding Tuesday.

The center would create a place for police, child protection and social service agencies to work with children who’ve been abused or are involved in other legal issues. The idea is to create a more efficient, child-friendly, way of handling such situations.

There are seven centers like this in the state, but none in south-central Minnesota.

The grant from the Minnesota Office of Justice Programs will help in the process to change that, said Pat McDermott, Blue Earth County attorney.

“This is just basically some seed money to get some of the things in place and some of the technology to help us move forward with this endeavor,” he said.

The money is part of a grant that the county can continue receiving and will mainly be used for training and equipment.

The county is partnering with Mayo Clinic Health System and other supporting agencies on the project. Victoria Hanson, Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato’s vice chair of administration, said current medical services for the children are provided by Dr. Arne Graff of Mayo Clinic Rochester, who travels to the Mankato campus’ pediatric clinic twice per month.

When the child needs to work with law enforcement — if they've witnessed a crime, for example — they'd be brought to the Blue Earth County Justice Center. Hanson said the child advocacy center would provide a more child-friendly environment than the justice center.

The future location of the child advocacy center hasn’t yet been determined. McDermott said the project could be completed within a year and could have spin off benefits relating to how the area cares for children dealing with crises.

“If you look at this area of the state, this is why it’s such a great fit," he said. "It’s something that’s needed."

Follow Brian Arola @BrianArolaMFP.

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