Champion for Children Advocacy Center
1968 Sebring Parkway Sebring, FL 33870
Phone: (863) 402-6845 Fax: (863) 402-6869
“It shouldn't hurt to be a kid” and because of the Children’s Advocacy Center, child victims of abuse have a safe place to tell their story and feel secure in the knowledge that their abuser cannot reach them. The Advocacy Center provides a child-friendly facility, where victims of abuse can come and feel safe, while all agencies involving themselves in the case are available, on site, to meet the needs of the child.
The mission of the Children’s Advocacy Center is to minimize trauma of child abuse victims and provide prevention support to families needing assistance in keeping them intact. The center fulfills our mission by collaboratively coordinating all disciplines in the abuse field and bringing them together at the center to interview, evaluate, and collectively make decisions. The center’s response reduces trauma to the victim, aids in more immediate follow-ups on child abuse reports, makes offenders more accountable for their actions, reduces costly and repetitious interviews, aids in more complete medical and mental health referrals, and eliminates the duplication of efforts among agencies working in this arena. Children are better protected and their healing is more complete. In addition, because of enhanced accountability, government agencies are quicker to remove themselves from families where intervention is not justified.
The Children’s Advocacy Center is a joint effort between the Children’s Services Council of Highlands County, a twenty member Board appointed by the Highlands County Board of County Commissions, and the Champion for Children Foundation of Highlands County, a ten member non-profit 501(c)3. The building is maintained by the County with all the services being subsidized by the Foundation. The center has been in operation since October 1998 and is truly a private / public partnership. It is one of a handful in the state of Florida and was accredited by the National Children’s Alliance in its first year of operation. The center sees more than five hundred children annually.
Partner agencies include Department of Children and Families investigators, State Attorney’s Office, forensic interviewer, medical technician, victim advocate, law enforcement, child psychologist, Guardian Ad Litem, Department of Juvenile Justice and the Highlands County School Board.
Benefits of the Children’s Advocacy Center
- Trauma experienced by the child is reduced.
- Child abuse reports are investigated more promptly and more thoroughly.
- More offenders are held accountable because prosecutions are more successful.
- The number of costly and repetitious child victim interviews is greatly reduced.
- Medical and mental health referrals are completed more efficiently.
- Children are better protected; their healing is faster and more complete.
- Duplication of effort is eliminated.
Signs of Abuse
- Displays welts or skin injuries
- Wears dirty clothes or clothing inappropriate for the weather
- Appears unwashed and unclean
- Exhibits severely abnormal eating habits
- Begs or steals food
- Shows extremes of behavior
- Acts unusually adult or the reverse
- Seems unduly afraid of parents
- Is often tired and without energy
- Is consistently unpleasant and hard to get along with or overly demanding and frequently a source of trouble
- Is habitually absent or late to school
- Engages in frequent vandalism, sexual misconduct, or abuse of alcohol or drugs
- Shows severely retarded physical or mental growth
The Children’s Advocacy Center (863) 402-6845
State Attorney (863) 402-6849
Department of Children & Families (863) 402-7700
Highlands County School Board (863) 471-5555
Highlands County Sheriff’s Office (863) 402-7200
Victim Advocate (863) 402-6855
Peace River Center’s (863) 402-6859
Safe House (863) 386-1167
Abuse Registry (800) 962-2873
Tri-County Human Services (863) 385-2662
Juvenile Justice (863) 471-5300
Guardian Ad Litem (863) 402-6969
Heartland for Children (863) 863-519-8900
Hope United (863) 385-1009
Child Protection Team (863) 402-6847
Healthy Start (863) 386-6040 Ex. 233
Duty To Report
According to Florida law, it is the duty of every person residing in the state to report the suspicion of child abuse. Some professionals are mandated to give their name when making a report, but most calls can be made anonymously. Suspected child abuse calls can be made to the Florida Abuse Registry Hotline at: 1(800) 96 ABUSE or 1(800) 962-2873.
For more information about Children's Advocacy Centers and their locations in Florida, please visit The Florida Network of CAC's website at www.fncac.org