Children's Advocacy Center of Collier County - Welcome
Our mission is to minimize trauma to abused children and enhance families’ capabilities to provide a safe environment. This is achieved through a cooperative, multi-disciplinary team approach to the identification, intervention and treatment of child abuse and neglect.
The Children’s Advocacy Center of Collier County is a non-profit 501 (C)(3) comprised of four programs dedicated to assisting child victims of physical and sexual abuse, as well as families experiencing high conflict and/or domestic violence.
Children's Advocacy Center of Collier County - About Us
The CAC of Collier County creates a safe place for children during the height of crisis; performs forensic interviews and medical exams; advocates for the child/family in court; teaches parenting classes; and provides safe visitation for families in a child-friendly environment.
From its inception in 1986, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collier County, a non-profit immediate response facility, continues to provide quality care to children who are victims of both physical and sexual child abuse and neglect. Thorough investigation, trained specialists, loving care, and compassion are at the heart of the agency’s mission. Comprised of five programs: the Child Protection Team, Family Safety Program, Child Victim Rapid Response Program, Parenting Education Program, and Sexual Abuse Treatment Program, the Center works to ensure the child’s safety and re-unite the family in a safe environment when possible.
Collier County’s CAC works in close collaboration with local law enforcement, the Florida Department of Children & Families, the State Attorney’s Office, Victim Advocates, and Mental Health Partners to ensure quality care for the children in our care. Although our clients encompass every socio-economic and ethnic background, they share a common experience – the lasting emotional scars of sexual and physical abuse and neglect. It is through our five programs, that our agency is able to assist the child in the healing process.
Children's Advocacy Center of Collier County - Services
Child Protection Team:
The Child Protection Team, or CPT, is responsible for providing the medical and social diagnosis of child abuse and neglect. This is a medically directed program with highly trained staff ready to respond in times of crisis, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The program works closely with Department of Children & Families and local law enforcement agencies to provide forensic interviews and medical evaluations when a child is suspected of having been physically or sexually abused and/or neglected.
The CPT staff ensures that each part of the investigative team has all information necessary to determine what has occurred. If the child’s injuries are consistent with abuse, the CPT staff will document all evidence and make appropriate recommendations to further ensure the safety and well-being of the child.
Family Safety Program:
With episodes of domestic violence, abuse, and neglect occurring at a more steadily increasing rate within Collier County, the CAC recognized a need to create an environment where children and families may interact safely and appropriately. In 1997 we implemented the Family Safety Program deeply committed to our mission to enhance families’ capabilities to provide a safe environment for their children by providing family assessments, supervised visitations and safe exchanges. The program largely services families experiencing high conflict and/or domestic violence.
Based on a referral system, the CAC’s Family Safety Program services clients who are appointed an order from the courts. Governed by strictly enforced rules that require the participants in a “safe exchange” to stagger their arrival and departure times to prevent stalking and unnecessary confrontation, the child and victim’s safety are always a priority. Supervised visits between parent and child are monitored diligently by the CAC staff. If the child’s safety is being jeopardized at any time during the visit, services may be suspended at the discretion of the staff supervisor.
What makes our program unique is that there are no fees charged to crime victims, including children affected by domestic violence. Victims may also be eligible for the Crime Victim Compensation Program, which pays for counseling for child witnesses to domestic violence. Families are provided with case management including personal advocacy and support, crisis counseling, and follow-up with the victim(s).
Child Victim Rapid Response:
The Child Victim Rapid Response Program (CVRR) program began in 1999 to provide the early identification of physical and sexual child abuse and neglect. CVRR places a professionally trained youth advocate within selected Collier County Public Schools. Studies have shown that children who are victims of these forms of abuse are less likely to focus on learning, are at high risk for re-victimization, can become perpetrators of violence and are at risk as adults to repeat the cycle of violence. The focus of this program is to stop the cycle of violence by assisting the child in accessing support and community services.
Youth Advocates also conduct educational and prevention activities for youths in the classroom and provide teacher training throughout the county.
The Parenting Education Program (PEP) is a parenting skills course for high-risk families. PEP is funded by the Children’s Network of Southwest Florida. The families that participate in PEP are under the supervision of Family Preservation Services and have been referred through the dependency court system to PEP. The typical parent that works with PEP has either had their child removed from their home or is under the strict supervision of Family Preservation Services. If referred, the parent must complete the parenting course in order to regain custody of their child and/or to complete their case plan tasks as assigned by the court.
The course curriculum that PEP follows is the Nurturing Parenting Program, authored by Dr. Stephen J. Bavolek, Ph.D. The parenting classes are conducted one-on-one, once a week for 9 weeks and each session is an hour and a half. The classes can be held in the client’s home or in the CAC offices, at the convenience of the client. The sessions include readings from the Nurturing Parenting Program book, educational video clips, discussions, role-plays, and homework assignments. The key concepts of the program include empathy, child development, family roles, alternatives to corporal punishment, and encouraging independence. The parents are expected to complete all assignments and to be active participants in the program.
Throughout the course, PEP staff works collaboratively with Family Preservation Services, providing progress reports, to ensure that the parents are participating properly and following all rules and regulations. At the conclusion of the 9 weeks, PEP staff completes a final report that summarizes the parent’s progress and provides recommendations as a result of the observations during the meetings. Recommendations can include mental health counseling, obtaining employment, obtaining daycare for their children, etc.
Sexual Abuse Treatment Program
Children’s Advocacy Center of Collier County (CAC) expanded therapy services with a Sexual Abuse Treatment Program (SATP) at the beginning of 2008. The SATP program provides specialized, a community-based, family-centered treatment to victims of child abuse and their non-offending family members. Individual, group and family counseling is available for victims, their siblings and non-offending caretakers. Counseling services are available to assist families recovering from sexual abuse, to prevent children’s developmental impairment because of the abuse, and to promote healthy, non-abusive relationships.
Child sexual abuse includes the victimization of a child by sexual activities, including molestation, indecent exposure, fondling, rape and incest. The Sexual Abuse Treatment Program will focus on primary victims, those children that have directly suffered the abuse. Minor children, usually siblings, are secondary victims and receive treatment as a result of his/her own reaction/exposure to the abuse directed against the primary victim.
The program is supported through funds provided by the Florida Department of Health, Children’s Medical Services and the Office of the Attorney General Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds. The programs are related to the Child Protection Team (CPT) and provide for access of services. Referrals for treatment will be initiated by the CPT case coordinators through the agency advocates. It is the goal of the program to provide better access to therapeutic services for the child victim and their families. The agency is subcontracting with Catholic Charities who will provide the counseling services and supervision of the therapists. Counseling services are provided at the CAC center which allows the families to go to one familiar location.
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