The statement, “A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every person leaves a mark.” is so true. Unfortunately, there are instances where children are not treated the way they deserve to be treated – with love and respect, in a safe and secure environment. Often the subject many don’t like to discuss or even think about, is there are many members of our youth who are abused, neglected and in some cases in dire danger. The statistics are only climbing as the population in Collin county continues to grow exponentially.
The Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County is a safe haven for these children, along with any other non-threatening parent or guardian to come to. Having been in operation, and subsequently celebrating their 25th Anniversary this year, The Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County has been helping over sixty thousand children and other family members escape and heal from the situations they have endured. Comprised of Board members, an executive team and staff members, the Children’s Advocacy Center continues to grow. The Board Director, Stephanie South has been with the center for over nineteen years. She walked me through the process that children go through once entering the halls of this wonderful safe place.
The three step system they use includes, Safety, Healing, and Justice. One can surmise just by the titles of these what this might mean, but each entity works in conjunction with the other, is ever-changing and requires a lot of work, both physically and emotionally. If for instance, there is a child being physically abused, CPS will be called, the child will be removed from the home out of harms way. They can come to the Children’s Advocacy Center along with any other sibling or parent that is also subject to the abuse. The overall goal of Safety is to remove the harm from any of the family members immediately. Healing entails the emotional support one needs to get through the ordeal. This includes any therapy sessions with other family members. The road to healing begins immediately once the child arrives. The third step in the process, is Justice. Justice is the part where the Children’s Advocacy Center works with law enforcement, lawyers, and others to make sure the perpetrator in the child’s life is punished for their actions. This includes often times, long, drawn out legal battles within court systems that can, as Stephanie mentioned, “last up to years to see any results.” The center makes sure that each child has a family advocate through the entire process, in other words, until justice is served.
The leader of the center, CEO Lynne McLean, is surrounded by hundreds of staff members assisting each family member in need. Lynne has been with the Children’s Advocacy center for over eight years now. Prior to this, she has been an executive in a number of non-profit organizations dealing with the same subject. She has a true passion and has made it her life’s work to continue to help children in need. Lynne would ultimately like to see the Children’s Advocacy Center branch off into others, especially since Collin County’s population continues to skyrocket. To raise funds for the center they have a number of annual events. A Guardian Angel program in December, A Golf Tournament in September and coming up very soon, April 29th to be exact, is their 2017 Gala celebrating their twenty five years of helping over 60,000 families in need. The Gala is set to have four time Grammy winner Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo perform. Along with both silent and live auction items including a Lexus giveaway!
To learn more about the 2017 Gala, other upcoming events or different ways you can help fund this wonderful organization, please visit here: http://www.caccollincounty.org/ Together we can keep the children and other family members who are in harms way safe.