THE CHILDREN’S ADVOCACY CENTER AWARDED $165,000 FROM STATE OF MICHIGAN

 

 

The Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Michigan (CAC) is proud to announce that our Abuse Prevention Program was selected by Children’s Trust Michigan (CTM) to receive $165,000 over the next 2.5 years to expand and support our community-based education dedicated to the prevention of child abuse in Berrien County. These funds became available through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant. In total, there were 93 applications from 65 agencies resulting in nearly $20 million of funding requested. With only $2-3 million available to award, this was a competitive grant process.

 

The CAC is a nonprofit agency dedicated to the investigation, treatment, and prevention of child sexual abuse. Services include forensic interviews of child-victims for Law Enforcement and Childrens’ Protective Services, expert testimony in criminal trails, free individual and group therapy for victims and families, and prevention education. Our Prevention Program includes Pre-K – 12th grade safety lessons delivered in collaboration with area schools. These lessons for students range from education on body safety, personal rights, and anti-bullying, to discussions on healthy relationships, consent, sexual assault, digital safety, and human trafficking for older children and teens. We also provide abuse prevention and response education for adults who care about and work with children. Topics include awareness on the prevalence of child sexual abuse, prevention strategies we can all take, and professional development for staff to learn how to recognize signs and symptoms, and legal requirements as it pertains to reporting suspected child abuse.

 

The Prevention Program began at the CAC in 2018 and has rapidly expanded to the level where increased staffing and materials are needed to bring these programs to more areas in our community. While we have a relationship with most area public school districts, our goal is to provide this education to every school-age child in our community on an annual basis and for all adults who work in child-serving settings. The funds awarded by CTM, through the ARPA grant, will be instrumental in getting us closer to achieving these goals.

 

One in 10 children will be victims of sexual abuse before their 18th birthday, and 60% of victims never report their abuse. We also know that children who receive school-based abuse prevention education are 3.5 times more likely to disclose past or ongoing abuse. These lessons are vital to the health and safety of the kids in our community and have resulted in many disclosures of abuse, increasing access to services for victims and families, and new charges being filed against the offenders who abused these children.

The CAC has a 20+ year relationship with CTM and this award is validation that the work we do in Berrien County is valued. We are grateful to CTM staff and board for awarding the CAC this substantial level of support. Thanks to gifts and funding like this grant - and from other community foundations, fundraisers, and individual donations - all our programs and services are offered completely free to the community.  Receiving this award inspires us to expand our reach and seek additional support to sustain this growth, especially when this funding expires.

Together we can stop the cycle of abuse and if you’re interested in supporting the CAC, learning more about the programs we offer, or how to schedule these programs for your organization or school please visit our website: www.swmichigancac.org, call our office: (269) 556-9640, or email: prevention@swmichigancac.org.