Many years ago, my wife and I - seeing a quieter life and less hectic lifestyle - moved to the Florida Panhandle.
Amy soon became aware of a marvelous organization, The Children's Advocacy Center in nearby Niceville, whose mission is preventing child abuse, protecting children and restoring lives. The Center typically provides services to between 350-400 local children per year.
The Children's Advocacy Center investigates child abuse cases and helps hold offenders accountable. The Center also helps the kids and non-offending family members become survivors through trauma-focused therapy. Since its founding ten years ago, the Center has provided its services at no cost to the families it serves. While the services are at no cost to the families, recovery does come at a price.
We both decided to do whatever we could do to assist the professionals who work there, and help the abused children to live a better, safer and healthier life. We do this by donating money, and I MC fund raising events.
The Children's Advocacy Center is a professional office complex designed to be child-friendly in its design and operation. The professionals who work there have vast experience dealing with abused children. Typically, the children are able to stay with non-offending family members. Fewer than ten percent of the kids enter the foster care system or require emergency shelter.
The Center serves families in Okaloosa and Walton Counties, including the towns of Niceville, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Shalimar, Mary Esther, Crestview, DeFuniak Springs, Destin, Freeport and the surrounding areas.
The Children's Advocacy Center employs three Licensed Mental Health Therapists who provide counseling for victims of sexual and physical abuse and their families. Since 2004, over 10,000 therapy sessions have been provided to our victims and their families. The Agency Partners in the Center provide valuable medical exams and forensic interviews for use during prosecution of offenders. Victims and their families are never charged for services at the Center.
Services provided by the Center and agency partners include:
- A child-friendly atmosphere for recording interviews, on-site medical evaluations and assessments, utilizing "state of the art" technology.
- Coordination and facilitation of investigative, legal, social, medical and mental health services through a model "team" approach.
- Multi-disciplinary team (law enforcement, prosecution, mental health, social services, child protection team) case reviews and case tracking through the Center's case advocate program.
- Mental Health services - full-time licensed mental health therapists help reduce trauma of abused children and help restore lost childhoods.
- Community resources for information, referral and help.
- Professional training and educational presentations at the community, state, and national level.
- Darkness to Light child sexual abuse prevention program targeted at organizations working with children to include churches and daycares.
- Family services fund for immediate critical needs of children and families.
Amy and I feel there's no better cause than protecting defenseless children. We're delighted that we can play a role in its success.