By Tammi Pitzen, Executive Director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Jackson County
I often get asked to explain how the CAC works and what difference it really makes in the life of an abused child.
I think my amazing seven your old son gave me the best story/metaphor to explain this. He teaches me all sorts of new things on a daily basis.
Recently he taught me about dream catchers. He made a dream catcher and he was explaining what it does. He told me that it catches the bad dreams and replaces them with good.
I was intrigued and did a little research. Dream catchers are a tradition of the Native American community. It was believed that it would protect you from nightmares by having positive dreams slip through the hole in the center of the dream catcher and glide down the feathers to the sleeping person below. The nightmares would get caught up in the web and disappear when the first rays of sun stuck them.
This concept is the very thing that the CAC model does for abused children. Only the web is catching abuse and hopefully stopping it as we bring it out into the open and “shed light” on the issue.
The Children’s Advocacy Center model (CAC) is built on the concept of the multidisciplinary team. Each agency that has a role in the investigation and intervention into child abuse, works together to meet the needs of the child at the heart of said investigation. These agencies include law enforcement, Department of Human Services, mental health providers, forensic interviewers, medical providers, prosecutors, and advocates.
Each team member represents a strand in the web of the dream catcher doing their part to change the predicted outcome for the abused children we serve. Each service provided does a little to bring safety to a child.
We all change the trajectory of an abused child’s life by putting in place services that will help stop the abuse and replace it with healing. What a beautiful gift to give to a child who has been abused!
The CAC puts a great big spot light on child abuse and hopefully by doing this we can make it stop. Much like the dream catcher holds bad dreams in its web until the sun rays hit them and make them disappear.
We provide a holistic approach to the intervention, investigation and prosecution of child abuse. We provide medical evaluation, diagnosis and treatment, therapeutic interventions, forensic interviewing and advocacy and support services for children 0 to 18 who have been victims of abuse or witness to violent crimes.
These services are so needed in order to not only stop the damage of abuse but to repair the damage caused by abuse.
These services literally save lives.