WTCAC to host Chamber Coffee

The West Texas Children's Advocacy Center will host the Sweetwater Chamber of Commerce coffee event at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 6, 2011, 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 513 children from Nolan, Fisher, Mitchell, Scurry and Borden counties received services from the center, with 169 of those children from Nolan County.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.” Also planned is tonight's annual Child Abuse Awareness Banquet to be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 5, at the Nolan County Coliseum Annex. Tickets are $15. Call 235-1818 for more information.Also as part of Child Abuse Awareness Month, High Sky Children’s Ranch and West Texas Children’s Advocacy Center will be hosting the West Texas Family FunFair. This event is a family-oriented program focused on child abuse awareness and prevention. Families are encouraged to visit each booth and play games that are provided free of charge to all participants. A concession stand is also provided during the FunFair. There is no charge for items at the concession stand. The event will take place on Wednesday, April 6, and the concession stand and games are from 4-6 p.m. with a time of recognition for survivors of child abuse from 6:05-6:30 p.m. For more information, contact Javier Franco with HSCR at 325-235-8487 or Teresa Zarate with the WTCAC at 325-235-1818.