A System In Need of Repair
Before opening the doors of the Anna Crawford Children’s Center in 1990, abused children in Cherokee County often had to talk about their traumatic, embarrassing experiences of abuse again and again. After making the courageous decision to disclose the abuse to someone such as their teacher, a child would often have to repeat the details to the principal, school counselor, police officer, detective, doctor, lawyer, and perhaps others. In fact, research shows, prior to Child Advocacy Centers, children would have to retell what happened to them an average of 10-15 times to child welfare and law enforcement professionals. This process often took months and some children never received therapy after the investigation ended. Furthermore, there were few programs in the County that helped to promote the prevention of child abuse.
Joining Forces for the Children
In 1989, a group of Cherokee County citizens began discussing ways to better serve children impacted by abuse. Among this group were representatives from the Cherokee Department of Family and Children’s Services, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, Cherokee County District Attorney’s office, mental health professionals, the Cherokee County School System, and other private citizens. In the fall of 1989, this group of local citizens gathered to hear a presentation from a representative of the Georgia Council on Child Abuse. The presentation focused on how a local Council on Child Abuse would help the children of Cherokee County. In 1990, the concept became a reality and the organization incorporated. The Cherokee Child Advocacy Council, Inc. soon opened the Anna Crawford Children’s Center and began offering child abuse intervention and prevention programs and services to children and families in Cherokee County.
The council is a private, 501©3, non-profit, community-based organization dedicated to preventing child abuse and neglect; and protecting and serving children and families. Since 1989, this nonprofit, community-based organization has worked to break the cycle of child abuse through prevention and intervention services. Programs, based out of the Anna Crawford Children’s Center in Canton, Georgia, include Parents HELP and the Child Advocacy Center.
Since opening the doors of the Anna Crawford Children’s Center in 1990, our staff of mental health therapists, forensic interviewers, family advocates, and parent mentors and educators have worked together to serve thousands of Cherokee County children and family members impacted by child sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect and exposure to violence, allowing them to live healthier, fuller and happier lives.
A Model Program That Works
The opening of the Anna Crawford Children’s Center dramatically transformed the system’s response to children who had experienced child abuse, especially in cases involving child sexual abuse. Now, children are interviewed a limited number of times (usually just once) by a trained professional in a neutral, child-friendly environment instead of repeatedly being interviewed in school classrooms and offices, police stations and interrogation rooms, hospital emergency rooms, child protective services offices, or in front of family members in their homes. Care, support and therapy for the child and family begin within days or even hours, instead of weeks or months, and continues for as long as necessary. Parent Mentors and Educators now go out in the homes, schools, churches and businesses to educate parents, caregivers and other adults in caretaking roles on how they can do their part to prevent, react and respond responsibly to child abuse. We are pleased to be able to offer these intervention and prevention services in English, Spanish and Portuguese, at no charge to the children and families. The Cherokee Child Advocacy Council, Inc. does not discriminate against race, color, national origin or sex.