Children’s Advocacy Center

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We believe every child deserves a safe place to be heard.

The Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) acts as a neutral, third-party hub whose purpose is coordinating services and safe, child-sensitive support to children and their non-offending family members. The CAC also provides evidence-based, age-appropriate prevention education to the DeKalb County community.

Report suspected child abuse, neglect, or exploitation:
1-800-25ABUSE (1-800-252-2873) or online



How CACs Help Kids


Services

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Forensic Interviews

Research shows the CAC's one-time interview with a specially trained forensic interviewer relieves some of the additional trauma the child would experience with several separate interviews.
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Caregiver & Family Support

We provide crisis intervention services and education to families involved with the CAC. One of the most effective ways to prevent further instances of abuse is to educate the adults in a youth's life.
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Trauma Assessments

We offer various youth assessments to measure risk, needs, protective factors, mental health, emotional wellbeing, and trauma history.
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Counseling Referrals

We provide referrals to children and their family members to our Center for Counseling and other partner agencies to help process trauma, build resilience, and live healthier lives.
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Court Proceedings

We continue to support and advocate for children and families through any legal proceedings that may follow an investigation. This may include locating legal aide, completing paperwork, or simply providing emotional support.
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Medical Evaluations

We partner with MERIT to provide non-invasive pediatric medical evaluations in our office and other locations to identify signs of physical child abuse that may or may not be visible.

Our Prevention Efforts

We provide evidence-based, age appropriate prevention education to children, adults, teachers, law enforcement, professionals, and businesses throughout DeKalb County. Presentations are tailored to meet your specific needs and can include the following topics: child abuse, Erin's Law, grooming, human trafficking, online exploitation, commercial sexual exploitation, strangulation, protocol, and more.
Learn More

24/7 Runaway and Lockout Support

The Comprehensive Community Based Youth Services (CCBYS) 24/7 crisis hotline exists to increase family reunification and stabilize families. CCBYS is in place to divert or minimize involvement in child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

Who can receive these services?

Youth 11 to 17 years of age who:

  • Are at risk of involvement with the child welfare or juvenile justice systems
  • Parents will not allow them to return home
  • Have run away from home
  • Are beyond the control of parents and in immediate physical danger
  • Are homeless without their parents

What happens when I call the hotline?

Our crisis response team works with law enforcement, DCFS, medical professionals, or concerned community members to develop a safety plan for the youth to find safe shelter. We conduct crisis, safety, and mental health assessments to gauge the youth's overall well-being.

Call 877-870-2663 to receive these services.

Duo Dog Laddie

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Duo Dog Laddie comforts and supports children before forensic interviews, counseling, and other times when they might need extra reassurance. He does the same for our staff! Laddie was trained by Duo Dogs in St. Louis, Missouri, and he joined Family Service Agency in February 2022. He is a highly trained professional who approaches his job with enthusiasm and boundless affection. He loves to meet new people, especially the children FSA serves. When Laddie isn't busy with his very important job, he likes napping, getting pets, eating snacks, and hanging out with his brother, Cooper!
Research has shown that a dog at a Children’s Advocacy Center lends a homelike atmosphere to the center. A child encountering a calm, friendly dog at the CAC feels they are visiting someone’s home and that the facility dog lives there. The presence of an engaging, professionally trained facility dog can be an essential part of creating a sense of safety and security for children and their families. (Courthouse Dogs Foundation, 2015). 

Resources

Why do we do what we do?


Research shows that 1 in 10 children have been, are being, or will be the victim of sexual abuse before their 18th birthday. This is a staggering statistic, saying that at least 2 children in every Pre-K – 12th grade classroom is sexually abused before they graduate. It is also quite different than the often quoted “1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys” statistic.

What has changed regarding these numbers? The previously quoted statistic came from a study published by the Center for Disease Control about 25 years ago. Darkness to Light published a paper in 2013 outlining a new estimate of child sexual abuse which reported the 1 in 10 statistic.

The CAC coordinates investigations of child abuse (both sexual and physical) allegations as well as trafficking and exploitation. We work closely with our multi-disciplinary partners, including the state’s attorney, DCFS, law enforcement, medical team, trauma team, advocates, and forensic interviewers to ensure every child and non-offending family member gets the safety, treatment, and justice they deserve.

Child Advocacy Centers have been in existence for more than 30 years, and we have learned that the comprehensive and multi-disciplinary approach serves to lessen a child’s trauma. Outcomes show that the CAC increases felony prosecution of child sexual abusers, leads to increased referrals for trauma services, and increases non-offending caregivers’ satisfaction with the investigative process.


Watch Our Children's Advocacy Center Testimonial Video

Content warning: this video may not be appropriate for young audiences or those sensitive to topics of child maltreatment. 

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Email the Director
To learn more about our services please call 815-758-8616.
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