Since 1992, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County has been serving children and families who are victims of child abuse. The nonprofit brings “services to the child instead of the child going from place to place to tell their stories and get help” and works with law enforcement, medical professionals and other experts to help abused children get treatment and justice.
In Collin County alone, over 4,500 children are abused or neglected each year. The COVID-19 pandemic and Collin County’s population growth have also brought on new challenges for the non-profit, as the need for services for abused children increases. Because of this, the non-profit is opening a second advocacy center in fall 2022.
The groundbreaking ceremony takes place at 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 22, at the corner of Heritage Drive and Harroun Avenue in McKinney. Local Profile spoke with Jamie Ginden, CAC of Collin County community relations and marketing director, to learn more about the new facility and why it is so desperately needed.
How long has the project to build a second center been going on?
“We spent over five years conducting research on child population growth in Collin County and securing funds for the new facility. The construction company will officially break ground on July 1, 2021.”
What kinds of services do the advocacy centers provide?
“CAC of Collin County is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization providing hope to children and families victimized by child abuse. Our proven approach brings experts together under one roof to ensure safety and justice for children. We are the only agency in our community offering services critical to healing, free for life. We provide the following core services:
- Forensic Interviews – Fact-finding interviews conducted by specially trained professionals designed to minimize the number of times a child must tell their story.
- Therapy – Evidence-based, trauma-informed interventions that allow child victims and their non-offending family members the chance to heal from the trauma of abuse.
- Family Advocacy and Support Services – Focusing on emotional, economic, and resource needs of victims and their non-offending family members, the Center provides consistent support from the day they arrive to the end of the criminal trial.
- Community Education – Education for caregivers, childcare professionals, educators, faith communities, and corporate or civic groups that raises awareness throughout the community on the importance of preventing, recognizing, and reporting child abuse.”
Why was a second facility needed?
“By 2050, the child population in Collin County is expected to increase 280%. Our current facility in Plano will reach capacity by 2023, less than two years from now. A second full-service facility is needed to ensure that all children in Collin County affected by abuse [have] access to the services they need to heal.”
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected child abuse in Collin County?
“At the beginning of the pandemic, reports of child abuse dropped quickly; however, we knew that it wasn’t because abuse had stopped. At that time, some children were being forced to quarantine with their abuser. We were deeply concerned for the safety and well-being of the children of our community. As quarantine lifted and children began regularly attending school, our numbers began to increase. In April and May, we set record-breaking numbers for the amount of forensic interviews conducted in a month.”
What do you guys hope will come out of having a second advocacy center in Collin County?
“This second facility will allow greater access to life-changing services to children and families in the northern part of Collin County and also help us ensure that clients can continue to receive these services, free for life, without a waitlist.”