By LYDIA COUTRÉ
The Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center (DVCAC) has received a $475,000 grant to establish the first child advocacy center in Cuyahoga County and the 29th in Ohio
Cleveland is the last major metropolitan community in the state to develop such a center.
The grant, announced this week, comes from the Victims of Crime Act Victims Fund and will enable DVCAC to establish the center in partnership with government, nonprofit and law enforcement partners to better serve victims of various forms of abuse who are 18 years old and younger, according to a news release from the United Way of Greater Cleveland.
The United Way chapter gave a $100,000 planning grant in 2015 to DVCAC to convene community agencies serving victims of child abuse.
“CACs are a coordinated delivery of services that prioritizes the victim’s healing and increases prosecution rates,” said Nancy Mendez, United Way associate vice president of community impact, in a statement . “The new CAC, which is slated for operation in mid to late 2017, will streamline an abundance of children’s services such as victim advocacy, medical and mental health services, child protective services and everything the child needs to fully heal.”
To develop the child advocacy center, DVCAC will partner with United Way of Greater Cleveland, Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, Cleveland Division of Police, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department, Domestic Relations and Juvenile Court, FrontLine Service, the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth, University Hospitals and other organizations.
The center will have staff positions for planning and service delivery.
Across the United States, there are more than 900 child advocacy centers, or CACs, which holistically serve children who are victims of abuse, particularly sexual abuse.
Without such a service, child victims have to repeatedly tell their story to different law enforcement and treatment agencies, according the release. With a CAC, which can help assure quality investigations and interventions, abuse victims in the greater Cleveland area would be interviewed with all partners watching on a closed-circuit TV or via a two-way mirror, limiting the re-traumatization of a victim as they tell and retell their story.
Nationally, CACs served more than 165,000 children between January and June this year, according to the National Children’s Alliance.
“Community collaboration is key to becoming more effective in addressing and responding to child abuse,” said DVCAC CEO Linda Johanek in a statement. “We are fortunate to have a plethora of partners dedicated to decreasing child trauma and coordinating services to have a positive impact on children and families in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. This is a major step forward for our community.”