New Center fights child abuse

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 17, 2003


LULING – The Madere Parenting Center’s ribbon-cutting ceremony drew praises from visitors and officials during the event Monday afternoon.

The center is located in the former St. Charles Insurance building at 700-702 Paul Maillard Road, across from Hibernia Bank.

“It brings to the forefront the most under-reported crime of child abuse and a unified effort to address the problem,” St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said.

Under supervision by sheriff’s deputies, inmate labor first ripped out and discarded old paneling, ceiling tiles and carpeting.

The building itself was cleaned and refurbished prior to the group moving in for operation as the Madere Parenting Center, named for the Luling family who donated the building.

New plumbing, wiring and sheetrock were added, as well as installing new air-conditioning and heating.

President Wayne Gaupp of the St. Charles Council for the Prevention of Child Abuse said the center has been operating for several months prior to the offical ribbon-cutting. It coordinates with law enforcement, the court system and other social services agencies to teach parenting skills and produce happier, more emotionally-stable families, working especially with teen-age parents.

Board member Ronald St. Pierre of the child abuse organization said of the center, “This is a tremendous job. It looks like a brand-new building. It’s going to serve a good purpose in St. Charles Parish.”

Besides the sheriff, District Attorney Harry Morel and the state Office of Child Services will be working out of the building, with further assistance coming from the St. Charles Rotary Club, Gaupp said.

Morel and Parish President Albert Laque were also on hand for the opening. One of Morel’s assistant district attorneys, Kim McElwee commented, “It’s going to change the world, and that’s not an understatement.”

The organization dates back to 1990, when it first formed as a chapter of the Louisiana Council on Child Abuse. “We’ve come a long way through some highs and lows,” Gaupp commented.

One of the original founding board members, Gaupp related she got involved when she and a few others were approached to get involved with a child sex abuse case in the local district court. “We decided there was a need for the group.”

The organization conducted educational programs, including a popular puppet theater in local schools. “We saw that programs alone weren’t the answer,” Gaupp said. “We needed an advocacy center.”

The 80-member Council for Prevention of Child Abuse hopes with the Madere Parenting Center to attain a higher profile in the community, offering everything from parenting skill classes for teen-age mothers to stress-management programs for parents of all ages.