The West Texas Children's Advocacy Center will host the Sweetwater Chamber of Commerce coffee event at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 2, at the building located at 317 Oak Street. The Children’s Advocacy Center provides the first step in the healing process for children and their families, said spokesperson Teresa Zarate.
Last year, a total of 570 children from Nolan, Fisher, Mitchell, Scurry and Borden counties received services from the center.
The center’s mission is to provide intervention and victim services to child abuse victims and their non-offending family members.
When children walk through the door of the Children’s Advocacy Center, they enter a safe and child-friendly environment. A trained staff member meets them at the front door and escorts them to the playroom. The bright walls and signed, colorful handprints of other children welcome them in.
In the playroom, children have several activities afforded to them, including videos, puzzles, reading area, building blocks and playing with stuffed animals.
Each child receives a healthy snack. When needed, a child can receive a homemade blanket, clothes, backpack, school supplies and a stuffed animal that the center receives as donations.
The center is a safe environment and according to Zarate, the child is interviewed by a staff member who has received training in reducing the trauma of the interview as much as possible while still getting the information needed for law enforcement and child protective services investigators.
“Conducting the interview in an effective, non-traumatizing manner is one of the primary functions of the children’s advocacy centers,” she said. “However, staff members also actively support the victim and family through referrals for medical treatment, referrals to therapy and counseling, assistance with the Crime Victim Compensation application, court accompaniment, and the coordination of other victim and family services.”