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SUCCESS LOOKS DIFFERENT AT CAC

While CAC's work with young survivors can be difficult and success looks very different than in the corporate world, both the Forensic and Advocacy (FAS) and Mental Health Services (MHS) teams had numerous highpoints during fiscal year 2024 that reminded them our work is making a difference in our communities.


JUSTICE IS SERVED

  • CAC provided forensic interviews and advocacy support services to client families of multiple children who were exposed to abuse by a professional in a public setting. As a result of facts and corroborating evidence obtained during the forensic interviews and impressive investigative work by our Multidisciplinary Team partners, the alleged offender was charged with multiple felony offenses and will no longer be permitted to work with children in any capacity.


  • Julia*, a teenage client, was referred to CAC after disclosing abuse by an extended family member. Because forensic interviews are not specific to a particular allegation, Julia was provided the space to feel safe sharing her experience of long-term sexual abuse at the hands of her father for the first time ever with a CAC Bilingual Forensic Interviewer. The alleged offender was arrested and charged with Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault, a Class X felony and remains in custody awaiting trial.

  • An offender was found guilty in a jury trial last fall and subsequently sentenced to almost thirty years in prison after sexually abusing multiple family members. The family’s CAC advocate attended court with the survivors, ensuring they knew their rights and had all possible supports in place for the long and overwhelming experience of testifying in front of a jury and reading victim impact statements to a full courtroom of people, including the trusted family member who hurt them. One of the survivors, Kari*, sent a letter to CAC after the conclusion of the case, emphasizing the role her CAC advocate played in empowering her to stand up in front of a courtroom full of strangers and address her abuser directly.


HEALING BEGINS HERE

  • Solani*, a young client, was referred to our mental health program by one of CAC’s Family Advocates after she completed a forensic interview at the center. She was experiencing significant depressive symptoms related to the abuse she endured by a trusted adult. Solani began working with one of CAC’s Trauma Therapists to complete therapy and ultimately experienced a reduction in her symptoms. She is now thriving, according to her mother!


  • A CAC forensic interviewer held space for a teenage male survivor, Jon*, who had been exposed to substances and trafficked by his caregiver from the age of 11, to disclose what happened to him with a safe adult for the first time. Upon the completion of the interview, Jon thanked the interviewer for listening to him, acknowledging that his story was probably not easy to hear. He left the center with a visible weight lifted from his shoulders and expressed being interested in trauma therapy services at CAC because of his experience with the Advocate and Forensic Interviewer.  

 

CONTINUING EDUCATION BENEFITS STAFF AND CLIENTS

  • Due to the ICJIA surplus funds, the Mental Health Services (MHS) team was able to participate in an abundance of trainings this fiscal year. We received training in Theraplay, EMDR, Polyvagal and the 40-Hour Trauma-Informed Domestic Violence Education. This was a remarkable opportunity that we most likely wouldn't have had otherwise without this surplus, and we're all exceedingly grateful. We are confident that the skills we learned will truly benefit the families that we serve here at the CAC. 


SHARING OUR EXPERTISE WITH THE COMMUNITY

  • In December, Trauma Therapists Cara Liace and Valerie Cifuentes, along with Director of Forensic and Advocacy Service Jessica Montgomery, created a customized presentation, “Beyond the Mandate: Mandated Reporting and the Dynamics of Disclosure," and delivered the training to the Northbrook School District. This generated a lot of meaningful discussion, both day of and afterwards, and we appreciated the opportunity to review this invaluable information. 


  • Bilingual Trauma Therapists Yesenia Hernandez and Romelia Rodriguez co-led a Theraplay-based parent-child group at the Village of Mount Prospect. It was great to be able to incorporate principles from the team's recently attended Theraplay training. CAC's staff taught simple but intentional practices centered around structure, nurture, engagement, and challenge that can help strengthen the bond between parents/caregivers and their child(ren).


  • The MHS team as a whole has been engaging in a lot of outreach efforts in both D3 and D2 during FY2024 to both raise awareness and strengthen existing connections with community partners. 


THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

  • The Hope Restored Symposium was a smashing success! We had the privilege of welcoming 130 Chicago-area colleagues from a variety of helping professions to come together to learn and share and be seen and be heard as it relates to vicarious trauma. Attendees let CAC know how much this day meant to them saying:

    • "The validation, normalization, encouragement were unparalleled."

    • "Wonderful variety of backgrounds, topics but all centralized on the same themes of empowering and encouraging us in these helping professions to do sustainable work for ourselves and our clients. Truly incredible."

    • "This event was fun, lively and interactive, also it was a great way to network with other agencies."

    • "It reminded me of the importance of slowing down and creating space for myself among all the craziness. It also reminded me that we all have stuff, and we can be great social workers, counselors, therapists, helpers, and people in general even with stuff. I'm currently in school, and it was really wonderful to be around all these inspiring helpers."


*Names changed to protect client identities.


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