Leading the CAC is Jennifer Knisley, program director, who conducts child interviews for the program. The coordinated professional services for children and their families are provided by, among others, local law enforcement, Child Protective Services, prosecutor’s office, victim witness program and mental health and medical providers.
Knisley and Bob Lybarger, Isaiah’s Place executive director, provided information on the program’s first year to the county commissioners recently. The commissioners were among those providing initial funding for the center, last year agreeing to pay $124,900 toward startup while The Troy Foundation granted $35,712 for equipment.
Local governments from across the county also provided funding along with the county Department of Job and Family Services.
Commissioner Greg Simmons said he had heard nothing but positive comments from law enforcement on the services being provided.
The multi-disciplinary approach to services has been a key to the CAC’s success, Knisley said, noting that there are more than 140 investigations of abuse in the county each year, but the CAC specializes primarily in sexual abuse cases. The most cases seen involve children ages seven-12.
“I cannot stress enough how much of it has been a collaboration. Is not something that I could have done, Isaiah’s Place or Child Protective Services could have done. The foundation of it is that we all are working together, we all have regular communication. We see each other at a minimum monthly for case review,” she said.
“We are constantly trying to up our game, so to speak. I can say with 100% confidence that we have. We have upped our game with how all of those different agencies, all of us combine in responding to kiddos. I know we are doing better,” Knisley added.
In addition to working directly with cases, children and their families, the center in the past year worked with the education community on providing information and training on sexual abuse prevention. The education will be required in public schools as a result of a 2023 state law. The CAC worked with the county Educational Services Center and school districts on training more than 450 school personnel with more training sessions under discussion with other districts.
The center has acquired and provided the Child Safety Matters curriculum for use in schools. It also received accreditation through the National Children’s Alliance and made more than 25 public presentations on its services in its first year. Also during that time, the CAC received state funding for a second employee, who is a child therapist.
More information on the Child Advocacy Center is available at isaiahsplace.com/cac.
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