Before the creation of Children’s Advocacy Centers, children subjected to abuse were questioned within the often times cold, sterile walls of police departments. But with these centers now all around the country, children have a warm, comfortable environment where they are able to speak with highly-trained forensic interviewers and tell their stories. These advocacy centers also make the system more efficient, allowing agencies to communicate more effectively with each other and limiting the number of times children have to retell their abuse stories.
Here in Texas, there are 69 advocacy centers with one right here in Denton County. We had the opportunity to visit with CEO, Kristen Howell, to talk about what services the Denton County Advocacy Center offers and what plans they have for the future.
In 2017, the Denton County Advocacy Center conducted 836 forensic interviews, working collaboratively with law enforcement agencies, Child Protective Services, the District Attorney’s Office and more to provide justice for and heal the clients they serve. This collaboration has resulted in a 90%+ conviction rate in the District Attorney’s Crimes Against Children division.
The Advocacy Center is the first place a child and their family goes during an investigation, and they provide support, therapy and resources throughout the investigation and prosecution process.
They also provide resources to the families they serve, including Thanksgiving meals and gifts at Christmas time. Last year they were able to provide 102 family Thanksgivings and 315 kids’ Christmases thanks to the donations and efforts of people in our community.
And they are continuing to grow – I just had the chance to attend their groundbreaking a couple weeks ago. With the enormous growth happening here in our county, so also does the need grow for more space at places like the Advocacy Center. They’ll be doubling the size of both their Lewisville and Denton offices which will allow them to double the number of staff members on hand to help serve children within Denton County.
They are also currently working on raising funds for a Mabee Challenge Grant which will help with their expansion process. By July 11, 2018 they must raise the remaining $700,000 to receive the $600,000 grant. To help with that, on March 24, 2018, they are hosting their Champions for Children Gala at Circle R Ranch where guests will be wined and dined and will have the opportunity to help raise funds through both silent and live auctions.
There are so many other ways you can help the Children’s Advocacy Center for Denton County as well. You can view Volunteer opportunities on their site, as well as what items they are currently in need of on their Wish List, and other ways to donate.
We are grateful for Kristen and her team who tirelessly and happily serve the children and families in our community and look forward to finding ways in which we can help them in their mission to seek justice for those subjected to abuse.
*For more information about the Children’s Advocacy Center for Denton County, visit their website: www.cacdc.org.