JACKSON COUNTY CHILD ADVOCACY CENTER
The Jackson County Child Advocacy Center (JCCAC) is impacting the Jackson community in a very positive manner by helping child abuse investigators across all disciplines provide a more comprehensive and coordinated response to child abuse. Past practices had the child being interviewed by numerous people in various environments, inconsistent referrals for medical examinations, no consistent emotional support for the victim and non-offending caregivers, and no follow up to ensure that referrals made for longer term counseling and other essential services were ever obtained. A skilled, highly-trained forensic interviewer conducts non-leading, fact-finding interviews of children that are done in a child-friendly, developmentally-appropriate manner.
The JCCAC serves as a central meeting place where multidisciplinary team members work together in a coordinated effort on the investigation. While JCCAC staff interviews the child, the entire multidisciplinary team works behind the scenes, meeting with the family, observing the interview, and collaborating to determine a course of action to take on behalf of each child. The Child Advocacy Center approach provided by the JCCAC more readily ensures that the family and child get the services they need in a time of crisis, and investigators and prosecutors are able to proceed effectively and efficiently with their investigations, ultimately helping create a safer community for all.
Working with neighboring Child Advocacy Centers in Washtenaw and Calhoun counties, in July 2011 former Prosecuting Attorney Henry Zavislak identified gaps in Jackson services to the most vulnerable, the children. In spite of best efforts, by being processed through an adult-oriented system, these frightened children were further traumatized from multiple interviews in a variety of physical environments by various professionals (protective service workers, police, prosecutors, etc). Involved stakeholders came together to form a Multidisciplinary Team and established a protocol for agencies providing comprehensive services to abused children and their non-offending family members. JCCAC was housed initially in the new Center for Family Health building on Jackson St. In its second year of operation, JCCAC moved to a permanent home on Wildwood Ave. and was adopted as an official program of Catholic Charities by the Catholic Charities Board of Directors in August 2012.
The JCCAC provides access for children and families to obtain services which include, but are not limited to, the following:
• Forensic interviews, which alleviate the need for multiple interviews
• Crisis counseling
• Community resource assistance; and
• Referral services