Meet a Mom: Aubree Vance, Small Talk Children’s Advocacy Center | Greater Lansing Area Moms

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and we are honored to feature Aubree Vance as GLAMoms Meet a Mom this week.  Aubree is the Director of Forensic Interviewing and Prevention at Small Talk Children’s Advocacy Center.  Small Talk is a state of the art center leading the community in addressing child abuse and empowering children to have the courage to heal.

We recently met with Aubree and learned about her A-DORABLE daughter, some spot on mom-talk and her work at Small Talk – and the ongoing need for Small Talk services in the Greater Lansing community.

Le’mae Photography

Welcome to Greater Lansing Area Moms, please introduce yourself! 
My name is Aubree and I am a wife, mom and advocate for child victims of abuse. I work at Small Talk Children’s Advocacy Center as the Director of Forensic Interviewing and Prevention. I grew up in a small town in Iowa and graduated in 2010 from Trine University, where I met my husband. I currently reside in Mason, MI with my family. 

How old are your children? 
I have one daughter who is 4 years old. 

What do you think is one of the best parts about being a mom? 
As you get older and life gets in the way, you tend to forget how much happiness is in the simple things. I have loved watching my daughter experience life and getting to see it through her eyes and it’s helped me find joy in those things I had forgotten I enjoyed.  Picking flowers, riding bikes, looking for bugs. …..

What is a piece of advice for new moms you wish you would have known when you were a new mom?
We have all been in the same boat; just given birth and sent home with a tiny human to keep alive. It can be terrifying. Just know that all moms have no clue what they are doing early on- ok, truthfully ever! We are all doing the best we can, and it’s ok to ask for help.  Oh!  And half the baby items you think you will need to succeed you won’t end up needing.  

Please tell us more about being the Director of Forensic Interviewing and Prevention at Small Talk Children’s Advocacy Center:
As Director of Forensic Interviewing and Prevention, I wear several hats for Small Talk.  In my role as interviewer, I work with our Multi-disciplinary Team (MDT), which includes local law enforcement agencies, Child Protective Services (CPS), Prosecutors, and medical experts to conduct forensic interviews for child victims involved in criminal sexual conduct cases or physical abuse cases. A forensic interview is a specialized and legally defendable way of collecting a statement from a child or teen in a developmentally appropriate and unbiased way. The statement that is gathered during these forensic interviews is then used by law enforcement and CPS to conduct the investigation. 

Our Prevention program currently offers Darkness to Lights: Stewards of Children. This is a free prevention education program for all adults (18+) in Ingham and Eaton Counties. Small Talk has been able to offer this program to several school districts, local businesses, and many community members since 2016. We are now working to expand our prevention program and offer a body safety program within elementary and middle schools around the county. If you are interested in hearing more about either of these programs or scheduling training, please reach out to me at avance@smalltalkcac.org.  

You have both Criminal Justice and Psychology degrees!
I actually started college pursuing a degree in elementary education as I always had a passion for working with younger populations.  I quickly realized I was not meant for a classroom. 

In many cases, Criminal Justice and Psychology go hand-in-hand, which is why many schools, such as Trine, structure these curriculums to overlap.  These two degrees allowed me the opportunity to experience a variety of internships and work with local non-profits while deciding what I wanted to do once I graduated. 

I’ve never worked in law enforcement, but I have worked with many law enforcement agencies over the years in different capacities. 

How was your work at Small Talk affected since March 2020?
The pandemic greatly affected our work at Small Talk. Our clinical team was able to quickly transition to an online format, but our forensic interviews had to be halted. Interviews can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, and our interview and observation rooms did not meet social distancing guidelines. 

With the advisement of the Governor’s Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect and the National Children’s Alliance we were able to create a protocol for conducting Tele-Forensic Interviews that we felt protected our clients and all the members of our team, while still being legally sound. In May of 2020 we were able to move forward with conducting tele-forensic interviews and utilized this format until July 2021.

What are you looking forward to this summer?
My in-laws have a lake cottage on a lake up north, and we spend a large portion of our summers visiting them there. My husband grew up on this lake and I enjoy watching him share those memories with our daughter. We are also big fans of Universal Studios/Island of Adventure and are planning a family trip there.  Our hope is to also take our daughter to Lake Michigan for her first time as well.

Is there a favorite Michigan summer destination and/or place you like to visit your family?
We love going to the U.P for hiking and visiting Mackinac Island

How do you balance being a mom and your at times emotionally demanding work?
I try hard to leave work at work, but some days are heavier than others. I have a fantastic husband who supports me as a mom and professional, and he understands that there are times that I need an hour or so after work to decompress. He will take our daughter for a walk or play outside with our dog, Hank. He also encourages me to get out of the house and do things that bring me joy. 

Tell us more about Darkness to Light’s: Stewards of Children.
Darkness to Light’s: Stewards of Children is a prevention education program that educates adults on how to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. It utilizes “3 empowerment skills” and “5 steps” to teach adults what it takes to protect children. We receive frequent positive feedback about the impact this training has on the attendees.

Here are a couple questions to get to know you better 😊
What gets you up in the morning?  
Usually, our puppy Hank wants to go out at 5:30a! 

And how do you take your coffee? 
I’m a black coffee drinker most of the time. In the summer months, I like an iced shaken espresso.

Last book you read?  
I wish I had more time for reading- I love it! The last book I read was Normal People by Sally Rooney. I do have a long list of books on my amazon page I’m hoping to get to this summer! 

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
For many years, I wanted to be a cheerleader or a mermaid when I grew up! When I realized I was neither acrobatic or had a tail, I had plans on becoming a teacher, like my mom.  

If you watch television, what is your favorite show? 
I am a creature of habit when it comes to the TV shows I watch. I enjoy rewatching shows like The Office, Parks and Rec, Friends, and Modern Family. My husband and I are also huge fans of The Great British Bake Off. You can’t not be happy while watching that show. 

Strangest item carry on, purse, glove box or trunk right now? 
My daughter likes to collect rocks, acorns and snail shells while walking.  Most of the time, those items end up in my bag to take home.

What book(s) are your daughter’s favorites?
Right now our favorite books are everything Disney princess. We’re currently reading through the Little Golden Books.

Where are some of your favorite places locally to spend time with your family/family favorites – restaurants, attractions, events, etc? 
Over the last couple years, we have really enjoyed spending our summers at Potter Park Zoo and Hawk Island Park. We will bring our bikes with us and ride the trail between them. We spend some time seeing the animals then ride our bikes to Hawk Island and play on the splash pad or playground for a while. Sometimes we even pack a picnic lunch and make a whole day of it. 

Is there something you would like to see added to the Greater Lansing area landscape or what does Greater Lansing need more of? 
Lansing and surrounding areas offer a lot of opportunities for moms and their littles to get out, meet other moms and socialize. These get-togethers are often during work hours. I wish these same get-togethers and programs would also be offered on weekends or during evening hours for moms who work out of the home. 

Mind sharing a mom trick another mom will be happy to learn? 
I’ve got to stick with what I know best here and that’s prevention education! Teach proper body names early and have age-appropriate conversations about safe and unsafe touches. This removes the stigma surrounding these conversations, it teaches your kids that you are a safe person to come about all things body, and it helps protect your children.  

Aubree – we are SO grateful for this opportunity to talk with you and learn not only about Small Talk Children’s Advocacy Center but your work and your dedication to both children who have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse and ways to heighten awareness and prevention. Thank you for your dedication to helping children of the Greater Lansing area!

Left to Right: Aubree Vance, Thomas Grieb, Megan Fedewa, Annie Harrison, and Alex Brace. Photo Credit: Luca Giupponi.

Small Talk Children’s Advocacy Center provides hope, healing, and justice to children victimized by sexual abuse in Ingham and Eaton counties. At Small Talk, children receive coordinated services during sexual and physical abuse investigations. They are a 501(c)3 non-profit with a full accreditation from the National Children’s Alliance.

Did you know April is Child Abuse Prevention Month? Small Talk is honoring Child Abuse Prevention Month during April. Pinwheel garden kits are available for a suggested donation of $25 at SmallTalkCAC.org/Prevention 

Planting a pinwheel garden together is a child-friendly activity that families can do together. Kits include literature appropriate for both children and adults about how we can all prevent child sexual abuse together. 

Upcoming Small Talk Events:
Saturday, April 9th 10am-2pm at Meridian Farmers Market – Plant a Pinwheel Garden
Sunday, April 24th 11:30am-2:30pm at Lansing Lugnuts 

Below are ways you can contact and learn more about Aubree and Small Talk Children’s Advocacy Center

Facebook SmallTalkCAC 
Instagram @SmallTalkCAC   
LinkedIn account Small-talk-cac
Website Small Talk Children’s Advocacy Center

Additional resources:
For Prevention Education: www.SmallTalkCAC.org/Prevention 
To report child abuse: www.SmallTalkCAC.org/Report 
For help with sexual abuse between two children: www.SmallTalkCAC.org/HealthyBoundaries 

The Meet a Mom featuring Aubree Vance was brought to you by Small Talk Children’s Advocacy Center. 

Photo credits:
Family Photo – Le’mae Photography
Aubree Vance professional headshot: For the Love of Photography
Photographs of Small Talk staff:  Luca Giupponi
Other photos – Provided by Aubree Vance

Would you like to volunteer for Small Talk?
Contact Chelsea Roberts, Director
of Development at Small Talk, croberts@smalltalkcac.org

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