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Stand with CAC in April during Child Abuse Prevention Month

CAC is a unique community resource for empowering voices and

inspiring hope in young survivors of abuse or violence.

 

PRESS RELEASE: Hoffman Estates, Illinois, March 21, 2024


From your daughter’s classmate to your son’s soccer teammate to the high school girl next door, youth throughout our communities are impacted every day by abuse or other violence. In April, during Child Abuse Prevention Month, area residents can stand with Children’s Advocacy Center of North and Northwest Cook County (CAC) and show support for their work in the community, empowering the voices of young survivors and inspiring hope.


Girls like Brianna* have come to CAC’s safe, child-friendly space to give their account as a witness to domestic violence to a CAC Forensic Interviewer who uses trauma-focused, developmentally appropriate techniques. CAC’s Multidisciplinary Team partners in law enforcement, DCFS, the State’s Attorney’s Office and health care view the interview via a live feed and use it to determine next steps in an investigation, limiting additional trauma through a single, legally sound interview strategy.


Teens like Sonya* have come to CAC terrified about involving the police in a sexual assault that happened at her workplace. Yet through the support of a CAC Advocate, Sonya learned about her rights and how she could pursue charges in the future, should she choose to do that. Perhaps more importantly, Sonya’s Advocate connected her with CAC’s experienced in-house Trauma Therapists. Engaging in mental health counseling allowed Sonya to process her trauma and begin to move forward, confident that she had made the right choices for herself in this lifechanging experience.


“Children feel heard and empowered when they come to CAC and receive a continuum of services from the forensic interview to ongoing advocacy to specialized trauma therapy,” explained CAC’s Chief Executive Officer Melanie Pignotti. “The approach is intentionally designed to reduce the risk of additional trauma and to facilitate collaboration across CAC’s staff teams. When a child leaves the Center smiling and laughing because a burden has been lifted and they remember the toys and grownups who helped and listened, we have done our jobs well,” Pignotti shared.


Across the country this April, people will be displaying pinwheels, ribbons and signs to raise awareness for Child Abuse Prevention Month. CAC invites area residents to stand with CAC and purchase a Pinwheel Garden to display in your yard from April 1-30. Gardens are $50 and include 10 blue pinwheels and an 18”x24” yard sign, which reads: This garden grows hope! Gardens can be ordered on the CAC website and picked up at the Hoffman Estates or Skokie office the week of March 25.


CAC’s signature fundraising event, Bloom, is also held during Child Abuse Prevention Month. On April 18, 2024, from 6-9PM, CAC supporters will gather at the NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates for a night of inspiring stories and great conversation. Assistant State’s Attorney Heather Kent will share some of her powerful experiences working with CAC’s young survivors as their cases moved through the criminal justice system, and the Palatine Police Department Investigations Bureau will receive the Mark Parr Champion for Children Award. The event also features an open bar, heavy appetizers, a silent auction and a special raffle for a Billy Joel and Stevie Nicks concert package valued at $2,900. Tickets and additional details are available on the event website.


*Name changed to protect child’s identity.


ABOUT CAC

Since 1989, Children’s Advocacy Center of North and Northwest Cook County (CAC) has worked to empower the voices of children who have experienced violence, inspire hope and help them overcome their trauma. 


Before the existence of CACs, children who reported abuse would have to tell their stories multiple times to multiple people. Children would relive the most traumatic moments in their lives over and over again. CAC changed that.


·  We coordinate a single interview for the child with our Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) made up of local police, DCFS, State's Attorneys and medical personnel, which limits additional trauma to the child.

·  Our Advocates meet with the non-offending parents/caregivers and walk them through the forensic interview process and what they can expect.

·  Our specially trained Forensic Interviewers ask the children trauma-informed, age-appropriate questions that get all the necessary information to continue with the investigation. These interviews are viewed live by our Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) and recorded, reducing the number of times a child needs to give their account of the incident.

·  Our Advocates continue to help the family navigate the legal process, connect with other supportive community resources and refer them to CAC's in-house trauma therapy.

·  Our Trauma Therapists provide highly specialized mental health counseling to children and their non-offending family members to help them process the trauma and build resilience.


CAC’s primary service area covers 38 north and northwest Chicago suburbs. However, we also accept referrals from the collar counties and the City of Chicago. All services are offered free of charge and in English and Spanish. An interpreter bank is available for other language needs. More information is available at cachelps.org.

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