The West Texas Children’s Advocacy Center is fast approaching their Annual Child Abuse Awareness Banquet. This year the banquet will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 9, at the Nolan County Coliseum Annex and will have a guest speaker. Each year the WTCAC hosts the Child Abuse Awareness Banquet in an effort to raise the funds needed to support child abuse victims in the counties of Nolan, Scurry Mitchell, Fisher and Borden.
The mission of West Texas Children’s Advocacy Center 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 colorful handprints of other children welcome them in. In the playroom, they are free to relax, to watch videos, play with puzzles, read, build with blocks or simply cuddle with one of the hundred or so stuffed animals inhabiting the center.
Each child receives healthy snacks that are donated by community churches. When needed, a child can receive a homemade blanket and a stuffed animal that the center receives as donations.
In this caring, safe atmosphere, the child is interviewed about the abuse by a staff member who has been trained in reducing the trauma of the interview as much as possible, while still obtaining 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. 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 crime victim and family services.
As important as the interview, is the facilitation of the Multi-Disciplinary Team comprised of local law enforcement officials, the 32nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office, counselors, DFPS (Department of Family and Protective Services) investigators and family service providers, school counselors and members from other community agencies who review the cases of all children reported to CPS and all cases involving children being investigated by law enforcement. Through the communication that occurs during these monthly meetings, the Children’s Advocacy Center works to eliminate the possibility of even one child “falling through the cracks” and not receiving appropriate care.
Last year a total of 586 children from Fisher, Mitchell, Nolan and Scurry counties received services from the West Texas Children’s Advocacy Center, with 15 of those children being from neighboring counties served as a courtesy to those county officials.
The Children’s Advocacy Center provides the first step in the healing process for children and their families, offering comfort, support, hope and the promise of a brighter future. If you would like more information on banquet sponsorship and tickets, contact the West Texas Children’s Advocacy Center at 317 Oak Street or call 235-1818.