Child Advocacy Center – History

HISTORY

The Child Advocacy Center of Clearfield County (CAC-CC), Pennsylvania opened its doors to serve children and their families in August 2015.  Since that time the CAC-CC has received strong support from its local community; neighboring CACs; the Pennsylvania Commission of Crime and Delinquency (PCCD); the state Chapter of CACs and MDITs (PENN CAC); the North East Regional Chapter for CACs and MDITs (NRCAC); and the National Children’s Alliance (NCA). The CAC-CC serves as a safe place for children and their families to come when they are involved in a child abuse investigation.  The CAC-CC is a place where healing from childhood abuse begins.

The story of the CAC-CC began two years prior in 2013, when the District Attorney of Clearfield County, William Shaw, Jr., realized that he needed help in the prosecution of child abuse.  DA Shaw approached Clearfield County Office of Children, Youth, and Family Services, the law enforcement jurisdictions in Clearfield County, and CenClear, a local non-profit 501(c)(3), to create a Multi-disciplinary Investigative Team (MDIT) to combat child abuse within Clearfield County.  Through the fruits of collaboration, the MDIT was born.  Every person who is part of the MDIT serves an important role in the investigation process, and we are excited to have every member dedicated to the movement.

The CAC-CC is excited to continue on its journey supporting investigators, creating awareness on tough topics, and most importantly helping children and families who have suffered through abuse to be surrounded by a team of people who care. As the CAC-CC continues to grow, it has established a long term relationship with Penn Highlands Clearfield to begin working towards providing the pediatric sexual assault exams on site.

CenClear is a local non-profit established in 1980 that provides services throughout Clearfield County and surrounding areas.  CenClear began as a provider of the Head Start program, as well as other early childhood programs, but through the years has expanded to include mental health programs, behavioral health programs, and drug and alcohol programs. CenClear was able to graciously provide a facility to house the CAC-CC and the fiscal oversight needed to operate the community-based center.

The CAC-CC has not only become a safe place for children and their families during child abuse investigations, but also a safe place for the MDIT members.  The CAC-CC has created an environment that lets professionals in differing professions work towards the primary goal of investigating child abuse.  This environment creates a way for the MDIT members to share their thoughts and opinions in a way that promotes additional collaboration across the board.

The CAC-CC has a strong relationship with the three victim advocacy programs in Clearfield County.  The CAC-CC has been very fortunate to have the support from the Clearfield County Victim Witness Program, PASSAGES, Inc., and Community Action, Inc., Crossroads Project.  Each victim advocacy organization brings its own specialties to the CAC-CC and can offer guidance for victims regarding crime compensation, sexual assault, and domestic violence.  The three area providers work together to ensure victims are receiving the services they need throughout and after the investigation process.

While the child is being interviewed by a trained Forensic Interviewer the family is accompanied in the waiting room by a victim advocate. Each family that enters the CAC-CC receives a packet of information regarding resources and programs available in Clearfield County to help them along their path of healing.  The CAC-CC provides every family with literature on how to teach their children to stay safe, and to empower children to advocate for themselves. The CAC-CC is pleased to announce that they recently received NCA Associate membership, with the goal of becoming a fully accredited CAC within the next 5 years.

The CAC-CC is thankful to all those who have helped to create the center, but also the relationships that keep the program strong and operating smoothly.  Every individual and organization that is involved in combating child abuse becomes part of a greater movement to end child abuse.  This movement is a journey. This journey will not end quickly and will take many years to see results. We can only hope that the children of those child victims we serve today, will not suffer in the same way as their parents.

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