Starting their journey in 2008, the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) for Kaufman County has overcome several battles throughout their 14 years serving the community. Not only have they served the community in ways that would emotionally drain any regular individual, but they struggled to find a building that would suit the community’s needs.
On Dec. 1, the CAC dedicated a 10,000-square-foot renovated building at 2005 S. Houston Street in Kaufman. Through their Building Hope capital campaign and Kaufman County, the nonprofit was able to secure an expanded new home that serves all of Kaufman County—particularly its youngest members—at no cost to families.
The CAC has been located in multiple buildings over the last 14 years, but nothing quite like their new renovation. Their most recent building was 1,600 square feet and included a disjointed, separate location in Forney. Staff had to turn away families in need, with simply no room to accommodate all the families seeking help. When they secured the new location, it was merely a shell of a building. But after much patience and creativity, the new and improved CAC offers staff and families a safe and expansive space.
“Children’s Advocacy Center is proud to serve all of Kaufman County’s youngest citizens to provide hope and healing to families,” said Shannon Gardner, the center’s CEO. “This new center allows us to create a safe, child-friendly space in the heart of our growing community. We will be able to provide even more children much needed services to overcome their abuse and move on to a life full of promise and possibilities.”
The new areas include the following:
Eight counseling suites: These places will offer children and families evidence-based counseling in a private setting to help them heal from their abuse.
Six victim advocacy and forensic interview rooms: These private areas are where children and their families begin to receive support services.
Two soundproof forensic interview rooms.
Two rooms for law enforcement to view forensic interview rooms.
A dedicated office for law enforcement, child protective investigators and the Kaufman County District Attorney’s office to use when on-site.
Separate conference room for partner agencies to use.
Medical evaluation room: Medical professionals examine and document the abuse the children have endured.
Multipurpose area: This large area is a place for partner agency trainings, case reviews and a deregulation space for therapy clients.
Resource Room: this 24/7 resource center is where victim advocates and caseworkers can get supplies for children who are victims of abuse or neglect and who have immediate needs.
Reception/waiting areas: There are now four separate child-friendly, welcoming waiting areas to help maintain confidentiality of families.
“Sadly, child sexual assault knows no boundaries and affects every socio-economic group and ethnicity,” said the chairman of the center’s board, Mike Holder. “In the last five years, there have been more than 3,500 child abuse investigations in our county, and those numbers are increasing. The separate waiting areas and dedicated soundproof rooms for law enforcement, child protective investigators and the Kaufman County District Attorney’s office will help provide the privacy needed to help all those involved.”
Children’s Advocacy Center is involved in protecting children from child abuse through coordinated and teamed investigations with local law enforcement jurisdictions, hospitals, nonprofit organizations, the Kaufman County District Attorney’s Office and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
“We were pleased to partner with Children’s Advocacy Center for Kaufman County to help them with the building, so that they can focus on providing much needed services for our community,” said Kaufman County Judge Hal Richards. “We, as a county, understand the important role that the CACKC plays in helping the children and families of our community, as well as, an integral tool for law enforcement, child protective services and the District Attorney’s office. Offering support for the completion of this building helps the citizens of our county as well as those agencies that are responsible for protecting it.”
Malone, Maxell and Dennehy was the architect, and JRT, Inc. was the general contractor.
The opening ceremony started off with a prayer by Judge Casey Blair before welcoming remarks from Gardner. Cody Craig, representative on behalf of Keith Bell, kept the ball rolling by presenting the CAC with a certificate of congratulations. The crowd then heard thankful speeches from both Holder and Richards. The ceremony concluded with a ribbon cutting in front of the new facility.
About Children’s Advocacy Center for Kaufman County
The Children’s Advocacy Center for Kaufman County was established to coordinate the investigation, prosecution and treatment of child abuse cases across Kaufman County. Modeled on the simple but powerful concept of coordination between professionals involved in the system, the center preserves the dignity of child victims, maintains their trust, and ensures their best interests remain at the heart of every criminal investigation. Each year, nearly 500 children come to the Children’s Advocacy Center to receive forensic interviews, counseling and advocacy support. All services are provided in a nurturing, friendly and safe environment at no cost to a child’s family. Since 2008, CAC has served more than 4,000 children who have found safety and healing from their abuse. More information can be found at https://kaufmanccac.org/