WASHINGTON ― The Office for Victims of Crime, a component of the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs, presented the Volunteer for Victims Award to Linda Stambaugh, a Court-Appointed Special Advocate from Newell, South Dakota. The award honors individuals for their extraordinary and selfless efforts resulting in positive and lasting changes in the lives of crime victims.
“Ms. Stambaugh devoted countless hours to securing the safety and well-being of four young children, making the equivalent of a round-trip cross-country drive while their case was open to bring them to school, counseling, court proceedings and supervised visits with their parents,” said Amy L. Solomon, Principal Deputy Attorney General of OJP. “She demonstrated great compassion and incredible perseverance in her heroic work on behalf of these neglected siblings. It is a privilege to honor her volunteer service that went above and beyond.”
Ms. Stambaugh, a Court-Appointed Special Advocate for the Fourth Circuit Court of South Dakota, had only been working for nine days as a volunteer advocate when she received her first child abuse and neglect case. Four siblings between two and six years old had been found wandering the streets unsupervised on several occasions. They were placed in foster care while their parents tried to regain custody.
Ms. Stambaugh made 470 contacts on behalf of the children during the one-and-a-half years the case was open. She facilitated many visits, even transporting the children to sibling visits in two separate foster homes in two different communities so they could spend time together. She also drove the children to supervised visits with their parents, counseling sessions and school, logging more than 7,000 miles. She continued to work with the children and their parents to try to secure a successful reunification at the time of trial. When Stambaugh saw that the children were not thriving in the care of their parents, she effectively communicated this to the court, which ultimately found them a caring family, who adopted them together.
“Ms. Stambaugh was the one constant in these children’s lives during a period of tremendous change, loss, uncertainty and confusion,” said Kristina Rose, Director of OVC. “Her steadfast dedication and support helped stop the cycle of child abuse and neglect for these four children and put them in an environment where they can begin to safely heal and grow.”
Every April, OVC leads communities across the country in observing National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. President Ronald W. Reagan proclaimed the first Victims’ Rights Week in 1981, calling for greater sensitivity to the rights and needs of victims. This year’s observance is taking place April 24-30, and features the theme, “Rights, Access, Equity, for All Victims.”