WTCAC to host Child Abuse Awareness Banquet

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month and as a way to celebrate the efforts to end child abuse, the West Texas Children's Advocacy Center will host the seventh annual awareness banquet.According to David McDonald, Board President, last year's banquet was a great success due to generous donors. "We are optimistically looking forward to another successful event this year."The West Texas Children's Advocacy Center Child Abuse Awareness Banquet will take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 3, 2012, at the Nolan County Coliseum Annex. It will kickoff with entertainment from the Sweetwater Municipal Band and a video showcasing the center. This is the only fundraising event hosted by the West Texas Children's Advocacy Center and all of the proceeds from the event benefit the WTCAC to aid the victims of child abuse and provide prevention activities. Funds are raised for this event by sponsor donations. Those sponsoring the event will receive recognition before an audience of community leaders and business decision makers in the area. In 2007, Nolan County was ranked seventh and Scurry County was ranked 14th in the state of Texas for confirmed child abuse victims per capita. It was once common for a child who was a victim of abuse to be re-victimized by the agencies and people who were supposed to help. Professionals from the child protection, investigative, legal and medical systems would interview the child separately and repeatedly in police stations and other environments designed for adults. Many times these interviews were done solely to meet the diverse and sometimes conflicting requirements of the agencies involved, rather than the needs of the child. Successful prosecution was rare. The victim seldom received the support and services needed. Children's advocacy centers in Texas were created as child abuse intervention facilities used to combat these issues.The WTCAC addresses the problem of child abuse in Nolan, Mitchell, Fisher, Scurry and Borden Counties. Victims of child abuse have complex needs and services should be rendered by professionals that specialize in that area. The WTCAC has trained professionals that can provide these services to child victims and their non-offending family members. Their goal is to provide a non-threatening, child-friendly environment to help children feel safe and protected during the most difficult time in their lives. The WTCAC seeks to bridge the gap between families and the agencies that are involved in prosecuting and investigating the case."We are in a critical state of possible funding cuts for the future, so we are asking for the community's continued support for the Center," said WTCAC Executive Director Teresa Zarate. The WTCAC conducted 163 forensic interviews and reviewed 478 cases in fiscal year 2010-2011.The West Texas Children's Advocacy Center is a recognized member of the Children's Advocacy Center of Texas and the National Children's Alliance and is a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 organization. This year's board of directors includes David McDonald, President; Glynis Gotcher, Vice President; Mark Garcia, Treasurer; Lori Dockery, Secretary; Jackie Hackfeld, Member at Large; and Melinda Moncada, Past President. Also on the board are Barrett Thomas, Rosa Best, Christi Warner, Ricky Womack, Lita McEachern, Kerrie Blair and Norma Torres.A steak dinner will be prepared for those in attendance at the banquet. Established in 2000, West Texas Children's Advocacy Center works with children and teens age 0-17. Located at 317 Oak Street in Sweetwater, Texas, under Executive Director Teresa Zarate, the Center operates on the belief that the best interests of the child should be protected above all else. "The Center also offers a child-friendly environment where children and non-offending family members can feel safe and comfortable during traumatic times," says Zarate.Interagency partners include the 132nd District Attorney's Office, 32nd Judicial District Attorney's Office, Borden County Sheriff, Colorado City Police Department, Fisher County Sheriff's Office, High Sky Children's Ranch, Mitchell County Sheriff's Office, Nolan County Sheriff's Office, Roscoe Police Department, Scurry County Sheriff, Snyder Police Department, Sweetwater Police Department and Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.