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community partner spotlight

child abuse prevention month: children's advocacy center

In honor of Child Abuse Prevention month, we’re highlighting partner organizations who are members of the Stop Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) Council, and work to promote great childhoods. Learn more about the Children’s Advocacy Center, below.

One in 10 children will be the victim of sexual abuse before their 18th birthday. Despite this startling statistic, it’s a silent epidemic that people are afraid to talk about.

To prevent abuse, we must break through the stigma and shame, and talk about why sexual abuse of children happens. It’s the only way we will be able to stop what is arguably the number one health crisis that our children face today.

That is why the Board of Directors, staff and volunteers of the Children’s Advocacy Center believe child sexual abuse is a community problem. Experience has taught us that no single agency can possibly meet all the needs of sexually victimized children and their families. We have also learned that taking child victims from agency to agency for multiple interviews traumatizes children and, in fact, re-victimizes them. That is why we are committed to providing a coordinated, multi-disciplinary team approach including Protective Services, Law Enforcement, Prosecution, Mental and Medical Health professionals. It is our goal to provide programs and support services for child victims and their families which will enable them to heal emotionally and physically.

Prevention education is key to protecting children from sexual abuse. Did you know The Children’s Advocacy Center provides prevention education to over 9,000 children in Ottawa County as well as many youth-serving organizations, caregivers, teachers, and professionals? If you are interested in a Darkness to Light training to learn more about how YOU can prevent and recognize signs of abuse, please contact our Prevention Education Coordinator, Amy Dalman: adalman@cac-ottawa.org or call 616.393.6123 to schedule this award-winning training.

The Children’s Advocacy Center is proud to partner with the SCAN Council of Ottawa County. SCAN works to coordinate the child abuse prevention efforts of its members to ensure we work together in a collaborative effort to protect children and raise awareness of the issue of child abuse in Ottawa County.

Still have questions? Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions.



Why provide all this intervention? Isn’t a child’s life ruined after sexual abuse?
No. With a supportive response, protection and treatment, a child can recover both physically and emotionally.

What would happen if Children’s Advocacy Center did not exist?
Children would once again be revictimized by a fragmented system actually created to protect them. Such a system would require multiple interviews in several locations.

How much does it cost to receive services at the Children’s Advocacy Center?
All services including Forensic Interviews, Counseling, Support Groups and Medical Examinations are free of charge!

How is the Children’s Advocacy Center funded?
The Children’s Advocacy Center is a private, 501­c3 non­profit agency funded through a variety of public and private support. This includes funding from United Way, private donations, contracts and grants.

Is there any financial support from the State or County?
Yes. The local government bodies have found various ways to support the Children’s Advocacy Center and its multi­disciplinary team approach. There have been direct donations, contracted agreements, and in-­kind support. The Children’s Advocacy Center also receives state and federal funding for victims of crimes.

Is Child Sexual Abuse really a problem?
Studies show that one in10 children will be a victim of sexual abuse before age 18. Each year the Children’s Advocacy Center of Ottawa County provides services to nearly 2,457 abused children and their supportive family members, along with training over 10,00 adults and children about the importance of body safety!

Do any other agencies or programs in Ottawa County offer similar services?
No. The Children’s Advocacy Center model is a unique, non­duplicative program that utilizes the expertise of multi­disciplinary team working together to decrease trauma for child victims by streamlining the investigative process all under one roof. Staff members are specially trained to meet the special needs of the child victim including Forensic Interviewing, Specialized Forensic Medical Examinations, Trauma Informed Treatment and Court Preparation and Advocacy.

Is the Children’s Advocacy Center accredited by any national organization?
Yes. The Children’s Advocacy Center is a fully accredited program of the National Children’s Alliance in Washington D.C. In order to maintain accreditation, a Center must comply with 10 standards for membership and pass regular, on site reviews.

Does the Children’s Advocacy Center Model protect innocent people from false allegations?
Yes. The Children’s Advocacy Center Forensic Interviewers are specially trained in the development of alternate hypotheses regarding what could account for what the child said. The Forensic Interview Protocol, strictly adhered by the Children’s Advocacy Center staff, encourages objectivity at all times and the understanding of child development and language on the information provided by a child. All Forensic Interviews are digitally recorded and admitted into evidence.

Is the Center for local residents only?
No. the Children’s Advocacy Center provides services for ALL residents of Ottawa County. Demographics regarding usage at the Children’s Advocacy Center reflect victims from each and every community within the county.