CLEARFIELD – The number of reported child abuse cases in Clearfield County jumped from 174 in 2011 to 373 in 2017, a 114 percent increase.
In the past, a report of child abuse meant the child may have to retell the story of abuse up to eight times. In these cases, it’s important that law enforcement, nurses, doctors, the district attorney, and in some cases, educators know what happened.
The search for a better way led to the development of Child Advocacy Centers, according to a news release issued Wednesday by the CAC-CC.
“CACs are able to keep everybody informed about the facts in the situation, without requiring the child to be repeatedly traumatized by having to tell the story over and over again.”
During its first full year of operation, the CAC of Clearfield County served 126 child victims. In 2018, the number jumped to 218 child victims.
The need for more space to serve children and the Multi-Disciplinary Investigative Team (MDIT) that work with the children meant a larger location was needed, according to the release.
The MDIT is made up of those working to investigate and address child abuse including law enforcement, district attorney, Child Youth and Family Services (CYFS), mental health providers, medical professionals and a victims’ advocate.
This year a new location was able to be purchased and modified to meet the needs of the CAC. “The new Spruce Street location in Clearfield opens into a welcoming waiting room,” the release states.
“Children that are waiting for a medical exam now have a room filled with large, soft, stuffed animals creating a warm and cheerful space for children who may be nervous or frightened.”
The location also offers a medical exam room, an interview room, an office space and a kitchen.
CACs are designed to be child-friendly places to help make the child and non-offending family members as comfortable as possible during what can be a difficult process.
Now when a case of suspected child abuse is made to law enforcement, Children, Youth and Family Services or the district attorney’s office, arrangements can be made to conduct the interviews and medical exams at the CAC, which focuses on the comfort of the child.
CACs follow guidelines developed by the National Children’s Alliance. CACs participate in intensive training, ongoing peer reviews and mentorship programs to ensure that a high-quality, child-sensitive approach is maintained.
CACs partner with legal entities and other community agencies to help ensure offenders are held accountable. The CAC offers education and training to promote community awareness and safety.
For more information on the CAC of Clearfield County call 814-768-3155 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. To report suspected child abuse, call 1-800-932-0313.
The CAC of Clearfield County was made possible through the assistance of Cen-Clear. Cen-Clear provided a facility to house the CAC of Clearfield County and provides the fiscal oversight needed to operate the community-based center.
Cen-Clear, headquartered in Bigler, is a non-profit organization that provides early childhood, preschool, mental health and drug and alcohol services. Cen-Clear is able to provide services in 15 counties. Services vary by location.