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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

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District Attorney hires full-time social worker to better serve victims

District Attorney hires full-time social worker to better serve victims

Lafourche Parish District Attorney Kristine Russell is excited to announce the hiring of a Heidi Irwin as the new Victims’ Rights Coordinator for the District Attorney’s Office.

As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Irwin will bring a new area of expertise to the position, said Russell.

“While prosecuting cases, it can be very easy to overlook the compassion and emotional health side of what we do,” said Russell. “There is no class in law school that teaches emotional support and rehabilitation. I felt it important to bring someone in who can help us provide a quality, more well-rounded service to the victims in our parish.”

Russell noted that many victims don’t seek out counseling because of limited time or a lack of resources, so she felt her office had an obligation to provide that service. While victims of sexual assault, domestic abuse battery, and other violent offenses will be the primary focus of the victim’s rights coordinator, other victims who could benefit would be welcome as well.

“It may be a year or two before a victim’s case goes to trial, and once it does we’re asking the victim to relive the trauma all over again” said Irwin. “We hope that by building the relationship with victims early on we can better help them walk through the legal process, develop strategies and receive resources to aid them in the healing and rehabilitative process.”

Irwin spent the last seventeen years in the Lafourche Parish School system working with children as a qualified social worker, while also working with families in her private practice.

The services provided will be clinical assessments, crisis intervention and victim stabilization, psycho-social assessments, advocacy, resource recommendations, liaison work, program development, and staff and community training.