Press Release

State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Rick Scott

David E. Wilkins

August 10, 2011
DCF Northwest Region
Communications Director
Terri Durdaller (850) 228-2196

Child Advocacy Centers in the Northwest Region Gear up for Back to School

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. – As children head back to school and teachers prepare for another school year, child advocacy centers (CAC) in the Northwest Region are focused on educating school administrators on mandatory reporting and dealing with child abuse.

"Child advocacy centers provide a place of hope and healing for victims and play a vital role in helping local communities respond to allegations of child abuse," said Vicki Abrams Northwest Regional Director for DCF. "Those of us in the social work field understand the importance for early intervention and desire to break abusive family cycles."

CACs offer workshops, presentations, and trainings that are aimed at educating parents, teachers, staff, students, and professionals of all backgrounds to increase knowledge of child abuse, improve attitudes and change child-protective behaviors. Many times, students will tell school counselors and teachers about being abused. Because their work involves regular contact with children, school staff is mandated by law to report suspected child abuse and neglect.

Currently, the Northwest Region has four CACs that provide services to help identify, treat and support children in abusive situations. Through the following centers, Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, Santa Rosa Kids’ House, Gulf Coast Children Advocacy Center and Gulf Coast Kid’s House nearly 3,000 children and families from all different races and income level were helped in 2010. Plans are developing to build a fifth CAC in Walton County.

Each CAC helps prevent child abuse through education, protects child victims from future abuse, and provides resources to restore the lives of the child and the child’s family. The advocacy centers in the region work with the Florida Department of Children and Families, Child Protection Team, State Attorney’s Office, local law enforcement and licensed mental health counselors.

If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873).