The Caledonia Children’s Advocacy Center (CCAC) has created a unique internship opportunity for students at both the high school and collegiate level.
Accredited by the National Children’s Alliance (NCA), the CCAC has to meet strict child advocacy center (CAC) standards (link to NCA standards: https://www.nationalchildrensalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/NCA-Standards-for-Accredited-Members-2017.pdf). Executive director Chris St. Cyr saw a way to demonstrate that even a small organization like CCAC was engaged in activities that met the Accreditation Cultural Competency standard to “…recruit, hire, and retain staff, volunteers, and board members that reflect the demographics of the community.”
The CCAC started participating in the college job fair at Lyndon State College (LSC), now known as Northern Vermont University-Lyndon. Director St. Cyr also posted on the LSC statewide job board. Once that first connection was made, the rest was easy. And now there are even professors who keep an eye out to place their students.
Executive Director Chris St. Cyr Victim Advocate Sarah Gerry
The expectation is to view the internship as a job. Director St. Cyr offers a small stipend for completing CCAC-specific work, but for the most part, high school interns are unpaid. Due to the nature of the cases that come through the doors of the CAC, high school interns are more limited in what they can and cannot do. And because they may know the victims and families, they are not allowed at the CAC during interviews. College students complete 24 hours of online victim advocate (VA) training. And if an opportunity presents itself, they may be allowed to work with a victim and family under CCAC victim advocate Sarah Gerry’s careful supervision.
Director St. Cyr’s strategy paid off. One of their former college interns is a candidate to fill an “at-large” board seat. When the pandemic hit, many programs, including the intern program at CCAC, were paused.
When director St. Cyr was called away for the National Guard, also a result of the pandemic, he hired one of their high school interns as a temporary employee to help fill the gaps.
The mutual benefit of having the interns at the CCAC, and providing them with these opportunities, has helped the center grow as an organization and creates long lasting relationships within the community and partner agencies.
Their driven interns at the CCAC add significant value to the team and benefit students in many degree programs. Over the past three years, the CCAC has hosted seven interns who brought a wide range of skills to the table. Where are they now?
Brittany Gallien (NVU Lyndon) graduated and now works for one of our partner agencies, Northeast Kingdom Human Services as a mental health worker.
Madison Labounty (St. Johnsbury Academy) graduated and came to work for CCAC during the summer months to assist our Victim Advocate, and also joined the Air Force and leaves for basic training in April, 2021.
Olivia Payette (NVU Johnson) is finishing her senior year.
Caleb Derbyshire (NVU Lyndon) graduated and is a commissioned officer with the Marine Corps.
Kelsey Holland (NVU Lyndon) graduated and is working for Kingdom Autism and Behavioral Health.
Angelina Zola (NVU Lyndon) graduates in the spring and plans to begin a graduate program that leads to a private practice of her own.
Katheryn Stone (St. Johnsbury Academy) graduated high school and entered the workforce. (photo not available)
While the CAC provides an opportunity for these interns to learn some skills and work independently, the interns help the CAC flourish. It’s a win/win!