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CALM in Santa Maria officially welcomed the public to its new facilities with an open house tour and a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday afternoon.

The ceremony also highlighted the organization's fifth annual "I Will Not Be Silent Campaign," and official proclamations declaring April as Child Abuse Prevention Month were presented by Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino and Lompoc Mayor Bob Lingl.

"It took us two years to find a new space," said Lori Goodman, chief development officer at CALM, which stands for Child Abuse Listening and Mediation.

"This new office is an example of commitment — we want to help families before there is abuse and help treat children to help them lead happier and healthier lives," she said.

"We have offices in Lompoc, Guadalupe, Santa Ynez Valley, Cuyama and Carpinteria," Goodman added. "Here, we currently have 28 staffers that work in our Santa Maria office, and even in this new facility we're bursting at the seams." 

CALM opened its first Santa Maria office in 2010, which started off focusing on alcohol, drug and mental health services all over Santa Barbara County.

After it became clear the city had so much need for child abuse prevention assistance, the organization expanded its services and hired more staff members to treat children of all ages, Goodman said.

"We were so fortunate that CALM was able to move into this new building in September," said Chief Executive Officer Alana Walczack. "It provides us space to do important work for children and families throughout this community."

Ambassadors of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce and members of the public were given tours of the new office prior to the ribbon cutting. 

The organization moved to the new location at 210 E. Enos Drive in September 2015.

The tour showed off various rooms for parent and child interactive therapy sessions and even a one-way mirror room where staff members can coach parents and their children while observing from behind the glass.

Each room also has toys, drawing boards and picture books to help children better express their emotions or traumatic experiences. 

During the tour, CALM presented a series of such newly implemented programs as SafeCare, which focuses on one-on-one parenting and postpartum support, and Child Abuse Treatment that focuses on emotional awareness and helps children identify feelings and adopt new coping mechanisms.

Patino and Lingl thanked CALM for their work in the community and declared the month of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in their respective cities.

"This is a critical social problem that can have damaging effects not only on the children involved but on the communities that must address the aftermath of the abuse," Patino said in her declaration address.

"And whereas CALM's 'I Will Not Be Silent' campaign, it is an ongoing public call to action in an effort to promote awareness and prevention of child abuse." 

Lingl and Patino voiced their appreciation for CALM's efforts in strengthening families' well-being and addressing the severity of child abuse. 

"I think it's very important that we have this organization here in Santa Maria, because we have children in need, and the need is definitely here," said Patino. "Just by going through all the rooms and you see parenting skills that need to be taught."

"I had someone ask me the other day, 'Who in Santa Maria teaches parenting skills?'" Patino added. "I know Fighting Back in Santa Maria Valley does, and now CALM does it, too. They will be able to fill that here in Santa Maria." 

"This is such a great program, although it's unfortunate that a program like this is necessary, but CALM offices all over Santa Barbara County are so vital to the children of this community," said Lingl. "We're so glad they're here." 

Patino said the resolution to designate April 2016 as Child Abuse Prevention Month will be addressed at the next City Council meeting. 

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Gina Kim covers crime and courts for Santa Maria Times. Follow her on Twitter @gina_k210

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