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Advocating for children

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Denton County Commissioners Court supports many non-profit agencies, and one that I would like to highlight this month is the Children’s Advocacy Center for Denton County (CACDC). 

Since the agency’s beginning, Commissioners Court has approved $766,368.00 to CACDC, and last year alone, $13,040.00 went to the center from jury donations!

For fifteen years, the CACDC has provided a safe place for severely abused children to be heard and supported during a difficult time in their lives.  Since April 1997, more than 8,000 brave children have come to the Center to tell their stories of abuse and more than 80,000 free counseling services have been provided for abused children and their family members.

The Children’s Advocacy Center, was created in an effort to reduce the trauma to children when involved in investigations of severe child abuse, to produce more effective, coordinated investigations, and to promote emotional healing for abused children and non-offending family.   The Advocacy Center is one of 66 agencies in Texas and one of over 800 Children’s Advocacy Center programs that currently exist in the United States.

The Center brings together professionals from law enforcement, Child Protective Services, the District Attorney’s Office, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, and Children’s Advocacy Center staff under one roof.  CACDC also includes a team of specialized nurses who are available to conduct child friendly medical exams that can be used as part of the investigation and provide peace of mind and treatment from a medical professional.  Many of the team members mentioned above actually office at the Advocacy Center; however, all team members meet weekly at CACDC to discuss and debrief the cases and interviews.

Since the CACDC opened in 1997, over 1,000 adult offenders have been brought to justice for sexually abusing children, an average of 64 per year. In 1996, only 8 adults were prosecuted for similar crimes.

The CACDC provides free counseling for the children and non-offending family members.  The agency provides group counseling, individual counseling, play therapy, and court preparation at both its Lewisville and Denton offices. The counseling program is designed to help children and families heal from the abuse and return to as much normality as possible.

As CACDC continues to provide services, its challenges and services grow.  In 2012 CACDC assisted 1,788 clients and conducted 746 forensic interviews.  The agency now provides free child abuse prevention education to adults including schools, churches, childcares, and the general public.  CACDC has also increased its staff and includes two bilingual employees to help meet the needs for Spanish speaking families.

CACDC will host its 4th Annual Champions for Children Gala on Saturday, February 23 at Circle R Ranch in Flower Mound.  The Gala is CACDC’s largest fundraiser, which helps the agency provide services for abused children.  Over 700 people are expected to attend the Gala, and CACDC’s goal is to raise $150,000 from the event.  The Champions for Children Gala features 20 chefs cooking appetizers and entrees for guests, wine tastings, celebrity athletes signing autographs, live auction, silent auction, and a live band later in the night.  For more information, to purchase a table for the event, or to order tickets, visit www.cacdcchampions.com.

To find out more visit www.cacdc.org or (972) 317-2818. To report abuse call 1-800-252-5400.

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