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Champion for Children Advocacy Center


Email: Lcruz@hcbcc.org 

1968 Sebring Parkway Sebring, FL 33870

Phone: (863) 402-6845 Fax: (863) 402-6869

 

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Why We Exist:

 “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-up on child abuse reports, aims to make offenders 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 because of the CAC and the Multidisciplinary Team (MDT). 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 program of the Highlands County BOCC and falls under the Community Programs Division.  It is governed & funded by the BOCC with guidance from the Children’s Services Council’s subcommittee “CAC Advisory Board”.  The CAC is tasked with aiding the Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) in their respective roles.  The MDT is comprised of Core Disciplines: Law Enforcement, Department of Children & Families, Mental Health, Child Protection Team- Forensic Interviewers, Victim & Family Advocates, & Medical Professionals.  In addition, the CAC maintains strong relationships with other service providers in the community such as: Guardian Ad Litem, Department of Juvenile Justice, Highlands County School Board, Champion for Children Foundation, One Hope United, Peace River Center, SCARF, & Heart of Florida Legal Aid.

The CAC in Highlands County has been accredited since 1998 and received its most recent accreditation from the National Children’s Alliance in June 2018!


Benefits of having a Children’s Advocacy Center In Your Community:

  • Reduced trauma to Child Victims
  • Child abuse reports are investigated more promptly and more thoroughly through the MDT.
  • 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 and treatments are trauma-focused.
  • Child victims and their non-offending caregivers participate in healing together.
  • Duplication of effort is eliminated.
  • Prevention & Education of the community, stakeholders, and professionals is increased and evidence-base
10 Facts About Child Abuse
  1. Child Abuse Happens in every part of Society.
  2. Children are usually victimized by someone they know.
  3. Children rarely tell someone they are being abused.
  4. It is extremely rare for a child to lie about sexual abuse.
  5. Medical evidence is rarely discovered after a child discloses sexual abuse.
  6. While all types of abuse are possible in the home, child neglect is more common than sexual abuse.
  7. Children who are sexually abused are not destined to continue the cycle of abuse as adults.
  8. Men and women are both capable of sexual abuse.
  9. Boys and girls react in similar ways to sexual abuse.
  10. Children with disabilities are more likely to become victims of abuse than children without disabilities.

For a copy of this handout or for research relating to these facts, please contact the Children’s Advocacy Center.

Internet Safety Tips for Kids and Teens: http://www.nationalcac.org/internet-safety-tips/

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 or via online report at: https://reportabuse.dcf.state.fl.us/

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To learn more about the CAC Movement and the positive impacts on Child Abuse in our country, click here.                                           

For more information about Children's Advocacy Centers and their locations in Florida, please visit The Florida Network of CAC's

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