Blue is the Color of Hope in April
Like daffodils on the roadsides and tulips in the gardens, blue pinwheels are blooming on the Union Courthouse
square. Just as daffodils and tulips announce to the world that spring is here, the blue pinwheels blowing in the breeze carry a message, too. The blue pinwheel is the national symbol for the prevention of child abuse and neglect. April is Child Abuse Awareness Month and the pinwheels, which remind us of childlike notions and carefree days, stand for a chance at the healthy, happy and full lives all children deserve.
The Children's Advocacy Center is a community-based collaboration that opened its doors in November of 2000 to better serve children named as victims of serious child abuse and neglect. The CAC accomplishes this through digitally-recorded forensic interviews, victim advocacy, mental health referrals, education regarding serious child abuse, and collaboration among agencies and professionals.
Children are referred to the Children's Advocacy Center by law enforcement agencies or the Children's Division. An interview is held in a child-friendly environment designed to put the children at ease and help them feel safe sharing their story. The interview is viewed on a closed-circuit television by a multidisciplinary team consisting of law enforcement, Children's Division, the juvenile office and prosecuting attorney. A copy of the recording is given to the law enforcement agency for evidence and copies of the report summary are forwarded to the multidisciplinary team members. This system allows a child to tell his story one time rather than having to relive the abuse over and over again for various agencies.
"1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will experience some form of sexual violence before the age of 18. 96% of the time, the child will know the perpetrator."
- Kathy Carr, CAC Family Advocate
In the 13 years since Children's Advocacy has been open, it has provided child-friendly interviewing, advocacy and support for close to 4,800 local children and their families. Services are provided free of charge, so that all children and families have access to quality, child-focused, professional support. The need for these services is reaffirmed every time another abused child walks through the CAC's doors.
"Success stories are tricky for us. Just having a child come here, where we are able to provide them with a sense of security and warmth, is a success to us."
- Cindy Vessell, Executive Director of CAC
"Success for us is giving parents the relief that their child got to tell their story, knowing that their child has a safe place to come to, and that the child does not have to live the trauma of telling their story over and over."
- Christi Leslie, CAC Forensic Interviewer
CAC provides free trainings to school counselors, teachers and other school personnel to help them recognize the signs of abuse and understand the myths that prevent children from receiving the help they need to escape and recover from abusive situations. Thanks to these trainings, many Franklin County teachers, counselors, and students know how to handle an abuse allegation and who to contact to limit stress and trauma to the victim.
Franklin County Area United Way is proud and honored to partner with Children's Advocacy Center and the dedicated folks who spend their days listening to atrocities that should never happen to children. When you see the blue pinwheels spinning in the breeze on the Courthouse Square, say a prayer for the children they represent. Better yet, call the Children's Advocacy Center and purchase a blue pinwheel to stand with the others. Join with Children's Advocacy Center, Grace's Place, CASA and all the other agencies in our county who serve to nurture, protect and advocate for children and speak out for an end to child abuse in Franklin County Missouri!