Jackson County Child Advocacy Center earns accreditation

Jackson County Child Advocacy Center (JCCAC) has been awarded accreditation by National Children's Alliance following an extensive application and site review process. As the accrediting agency for Children's Advocacy Centers (CAC) across the country, National Children's Alliance awards various levels of accreditation and membership to centers responding to allegations of child abuse in ways that are effective and efficient, and put the needs of child victims first. Accreditation is the highest level of membership with National Children's Alliance and denotes excellence in service.

The JCCAC provides a coordinated response to children who have been sexually abused or severely physically abused, bringing together law enforcement from all jurisdictions, the Prosecutor's office, Child Protective Services, Victims Advocates, AWARE, and The Child Protection Medical Team from U of M, all in an effort to prevent further victimization of the child.

Before the Child Advocacy Center, these vulnerable children had to tell their story many times to law enforcement, possibly a doctor or a nurse, a Protective Services worker, and a prosecuting attorney reliving the trauma over and over again.

The JCCAC provides the opportunity for one single, age-appropriate, interview to take place in a child friendly center, with a trained Forensic Interviewer, while law enforcement, Child Protective Services, and a prosecuting attorney observe behind a one-way glass. This process is proven successful not only in increased rates of prosecution but also, first and foremost, it provides the help and resources for the child victim and non offending caregivers to heal.

Planning for the JCCAC began in 2009. A temporary site was opened in 2011 at the Center for Family Health and in August 2012, the Board of Catholic Charities of Jackson, Lenawee, and Hillsdale Counties officially adopted the JCCAC as a program of the Agency. In 2014, in its third full year of operation, the JCCAC conducted 172 interviews.

National Children's Alliance awards Accredited Membership based on compliance with 10 national standards to ensure effective, efficient and consistent delivery of services to abuse victims. National Children's Alliance updated these standards in 2010 to reflect the most recent evidence-based practices in the field of child abuse intervention and prevention. According to these standards, Accredited Members must utilize a functioning and effective Multidisciplinary Team approach to work collaboratively in child abuse investigation, prosecution, and treatment. National Children's Alliance also considers standards regarding a center's cultural competency and diversity, forensic interviews, victim support and advocacy, medical evaluation, therapeutic intervention, and child focused setting.

"As a team of individuals dedicated to responding to child abuse, we recognize the importance of accreditation from National Children's Alliance and supporting the Multidisciplinary Team approach. Accreditation not only validates the JCCAC's proven effective approach to responding to allegations of child abuse, but also recognizes the diligent work and resolve of the Jackson community that made this vital service a reality for the children of Jackson County," said Sue Lewis, executive director of Catholic Charities.

"The Jackson County Child Advocacy Center is to be commended for its excellent work serving victims of child abuse. As the national association and accrediting body for Children's Advocacy Centers across the country, our goal is to ensure that every victim of child abuse has access to high quality services that result from professional collaboration," remarked Teresa Huizar, Executive Director of National Children's Alliance.

Jackson County Child Advocacy Center is a program of Catholic Charities of Jackson, Lenawee, and Hillsdale Counties. Catholic Charities of Jackson County was founded in 1966 and merged in 2010 with Catholic Charities of Lenawee (founded in 1958) to form Catholic Charities of Jackson, Lenawee, and Hillsdale Counties, providing help and creating hope for all people in the tri-county area of southern Michigan. For more visit www.CatholicCharitiesJLHC.org.

Published: Mon, Jan 12, 2015