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Community Support Ensures Children And Families Are Heard At The Child Advocacy Center

WOOD RIVER — The Madison County Child Advocacy Center (CAC) wants to ensure the public that abused children and their families are taken care of during this time of uncertainty.

“In times of crisis and instability child abuse and neglect rates can increase,” CAC Executive Director Carrie Cohan said. “We want to provide the best possible experience for children and families enduring child abuse allegations.”

Cohan said that the CAC has transitioned many of its services to be conducted at a safe distance and enacted strict guidelines for the wellbeing of the staff, team members and those that it serves.

“We are helping children and families continue to heal and our contracted therapy partners are offering telehealth counseling sessions,” she said.

The center is continuing to provide forensic interviews, case management services and telehealth therapy services for the children and families they serve.

“When children aren’t attending school, or participating in sports or activities, they may not be interacting with adults who can look out for their safety,” Cohan said. “But we want them to know that we are here and we are listening.”

The CAC is a resource for children who disclose abuse. Through a confidential forensic interview, children are able to share their story one time in a safe and supportive environment.

The CAC coordinates a multidisciplinary team that consists of professionals from the center, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, local law enforcement, the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office and professionals from the medical and mental health fields. With the support of Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery and an additional grant, the Center has been able to upgrade technology to practice socially distant interviews for children and team members.

“Phillips 66 is proud to support the Madison County Child Advocacy Center and the valuable work they do in our community,” Wood River Refinery Community Affairs Coordinator Megan Brodnax said. “We are thankful that technology and new resources are allowing them to continue providing their vital services to children in need during these challenging times.”

The upgraded technology allows specially trained forensic interviewers to provide child-focused, developmentally appropriate and culturally sensitive forensic interviews while maintaining a safe distance. The program allows CAC staff and team members to practice proper social distancing, while still getting the information they need to complete their portion of the investigation.

Each year, the center interviews approximately 500 children involved in physical or sexual abuse allegations. Before the CAC opened, a child who was a victim or witnessed a violent crime would often be interviewed by eight to 12 different people before the case went to trial.

Because of the CAC, abused children no longer have to endure such a strenuous interviewing process and authorities are better able to prosecute abuse cases. If you ever suspect child abuse please call 1-800-25-ABUSE or your local law enforcement.

To learn more about the center please visit or call 618-296-5390.

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