What is the Childrens' Advocacy Center of the South Plains?
The Children's Advocacy Center of the South Plains (CACSP) is where healing can begin for abused children. The CASP is a nonprofit agency that provides a coordinated, multidisciplinary approach to the investigation, intervention, and treatment of child sexual and physical abuse as well as trauma from witnessing traumatic events. Our mission is to bring together community resources to speed the healing to child victims of abuse and trauma. Our facility offices forensic interviewers, a family advocate, a community education coordinator, and a unit of CPS investigators. Our team consists of CAC staff, law enforcement (police, sheriff's office, Texas Rangers, and at times, the FBI, ICE, Homeland Security), and CPS investigators. Our team member agencies include the Prosecutors office, a Rape Crisis Center, a Pediatric Child Abuse Specialist, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, and mental health professionals. The CAC provides unbiased, non-leading, non-suggestive forensic interviews and therapeutic services that provide hope and healing to victims.
Why is the Children's Advocacy Center necessary?
The criminal justice system, primarily designed for adult perpetrators, not child victims, often lacks coordination between police, CPS, prosecution, medical, and mental health agencies. Before the CAC, children were often traumatized repeatedly by unnecessary and repetitive interviews with each agency independently. This former model led to duplication of efforts between various agencies and ultimately complicating the abuse case in an already complex system. The CAC helps minimize these issues by reducing child trauma and enhancing the investigation collaboration among the agencies, thereby resulting in improved lives for the child victims and a higher number of convictions of the perpetrators.
Who does the Children's Advocacy Center of the South Plains serve?
The CACSP serves children who are between the ages of 2-17 and adults who are developmentally delayed and are sexual assault victims. The majority (about 90%) of the cases that come through our center are regarding child sexual abuse allegations and/or severe physical abuse. The other types of cases that we interview are those where children have witnessed sibling deaths, suicides, homicides, drugs in the home, domestic violence, and internet pornography. We served 699 children in 2014
The CACSP also provides community education for children and adults in the South Plains area. The Yello Dyno program is an anti-victimization program that teaches children between the ages of 4-10 safety rules. We provide training for adults who work or volunteer with children using the Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse program, which meets the requirements that the State Legislature has put into place for child-serving agencies, schools, and daycares. We also do presentations at the police and sheriff's academy for new officers and to CPS for new investigators. Our staff also is requested to make presentations to our local universities, as well as civic groups, on our services and on child sexual abuse.
Is there a charge for services?
The CACSP never charges children or their families for our services. There is also no limit on the number of therapy sessions they may attend. Clients may attend therapy for as long as they need to. They may also return for therapy sessions if they need to in the future through the age of 17.
Where is the Children's Advocacy Center of the South Plains located?
The CACSP is located at 720 Texas Avenue in Lubbock, Texas. In order to assure the safety of the children we serve, the building has a secure entry. No one may enter the building unless they have an appointment and is let in by a staff member or volunteer. We also have a parking garage to accommodate anyone not able to maneuver our front porch steps.
Are there other child advocacy centers?
CACSP is the only center in the 15 counties comprising the South Plains. However, there are 65 other Children's Advocacy Centers in Texas that vary in size and scope of services. There are more than 750 Children's Advocacy Centers in the country with our national chapter located in Washington, D.C. You may visit our state chapter website at www.cactx.org or our national chapter at www.nationalchildrensalliance.org to read more on this model and out work.
What services does the Children's Advocacy Center provide to child victims?
Our multidisciplinary team consists of highly-trained and experienced personnel including police detectives, CPS investigators, prosecutors, forensic interviewers, therapist, medical child abuse specialists, and mental health professionals. This team works together to investigate child abuse allegations and to protect the child.
Forensic interviews are conducted in an age-appropriate, child-friendly room, with the child's comfort in mind. We strive for minimal interviews, and proper evidence collection with an unbiased, non-suggestive, non-leading interview protocol.
CACSP offers child victims therapeutic treatment with experienced therapists. The therapist are trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy, proven most effective with children who have been abused/traumatized.
Family Advocacy services are offered to the children and their families. They are informed of their rights as crime victims, assisted in accessing other community social services, assisted with filing a Crime Victims Compensation application, and receive follow-up phone calls to check on how the family is doing and whether they may need assistance from us. They are also accompanied to court (if their case ends up there) by our staff and/or volunteers.
Child victims of sexual abuse are able to receive forensic medical exams at the Child Advocacy and Research Center (C.A.R.E. Center) or at a local hospital emergency by specially trained sexual assault nurses. Cases of physical abuse are reviewed by a local pediatrician who is a child abuse specialist.
How are children referred to the Children's Advocacy Center for services?
Children are referred to the CACSP by law enforcement and CPS because they are mandated to receive reports of child abuse. We do not take walk-in clients or referrals from parents, relatives or attorneys. However, a concerned person can call our office and we will direct you on the next steps to take to get the child the help they need. We interview cases of sexual abuse, severe physical abuse, and witnesses to criminal and/or traumatic events such as suicides, homicides, sibling deaths, domestic violence, drugs in the home, and internet pornography.
If you suspect abuse please call the CPS hotline at 800-252-5400. If you feel the child is in immediate danger please call 911.