Mission: The Valley Children’s Advocacy Center’s (Valley CAC) mission is to strengthen the community’s response to child abuse and neglect; to investigate, assess, educate, and provide services using a multidisciplinary team approach; and work towards making the community a safe place for children.
Community Need: Valley CAC exists to serve the children in the community who have been victimized by various forms of abuse and/or exploitation. It is based on the national Children’s Advocacy Center model and was founded by local law enforcement, prosecutors, and victim advocates when they realized the way they were handling child abuse cases was ineffective in terms of providing quality services to the victim that promoted resiliency, as well as their acknowledgement of the low prosecution rate. In response to this realization, they formed the Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro Child Abuse Task Force and the Valley CAC was born. Without access to CAC services, children would be forced to repeatedly disclose their abuse experience, and often times they would be interviewed by inexperienced professionals, creating undue re-traumatization as well as unintentionally sabotaging the criminal investigation.
Constituents Served: During 2017, Valley CAC provided services to 254 children and their caregivers: 36% were male and 64% female. Types of abuse included: sexual abuse (70%); physical abuse (13%); neglect (4%); witness to violence (7%); drug endangerment (4%); and other (2%). The age range of the 254 of children served were: 0-6 (75 or 30%); 7-12 (110 or 43%); 13-18 (70 or 27%).
Primary Activities: The Valley CAC is designed to reduce the trauma and advance the recovery of abused and neglected children in the community. The Valley CAC provides specialized trauma-focused services to children by highly skilled, qualified professionals trained in best practices related to working directly with victims of child abuse and their families, and who are knowledgeable in child development. Services are provided during the initial investigative process and continue with evidence-based mental health treatment, which helps the child move from their victimization to a place of healing and resiliency. Specific services provided include: Forensic Interviewing, Family/Victim Advocacy, Mental Health Counseling, and community education and outreach. The CAC provides a child-friendly setting where children can be interviewed by regarding their abuse allegation. These interviews are recorded for use by law enforcement, Child Protective Services, and attorneys to enhance the investigation.
The CAC seeks to prevent trauma to the child caused by duplicative interviews and holds more offenders accountable through the improved prosecution of cases. While children are being interviewed, their non-offending caregiver is being provided with additional services that to process, often times for the first time, the allegation at hand. They are also provided with education and information to best support their child’s physical, behavioral, emotional, and psychological needs during this time, which greatly assists the child on their journey toward healing. Free mental health services are also offered to all children and their caregivers in order to support and promote their healing and resiliency from the abuse experience. Last, the Valley CAC provides educational opportunities to community members to create awareness regarding child sexual abuse and ways to identify, respond to, report, and prevent it within their community.
Amount Requested: $7,000
Operating Budget: $282,450