Up & Coming Weekly

April 28, 2020

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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12 UCW APRIL 29-MAY 5, 2020 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM COVER STORY Child Advocacy Center: Building a safer community by JENNA SHACKELFORD April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, but one local organization, the Child Advocacy Cen- ter, works tirelessly all year long to serve children in the Cumberland County community. Headed by longtime Fayetteville resident Roberta Humphries with support from a well-trained and compassionate staff and many capable volunteers, the Child Advocacy Center is a nonprofit organiza- tion that provides multidisciplinary services for chil- dren and families affected by sexual abuse or severe physical abuse across the county. It is accredited by the National Children's Alliance and adheres to 10 established national standards. e beneficial impact of the work of the Child Advocacy Center is tremendous. In 2019 alone, the Center received 730 reports of suspected sexual and/or physical abuse for children under 18. e Center conducted 416 forensic interviews for chil- dren between the ages of 3-17. e organization is on the frontlines, fighting abuse in several key ways. "e CAC brings together, in one location, child protective services investiga- tors, law enforcement, detectives, prosecutors, and medical and mental health professionals to provide a coordinated, comprehensive response to victims and their caregivers," Roberta Humphries, the ex- ecutive director of the Child Advocacy Center, said. "e CAC also provides professional and com- munity education related to child abuse prevention and interviention and is active in raising awareness in the community around the issue of child abuse through various community events." e Center partners with numerous agencies to accomplish their objectives. "We work with all of the following agencies: Cumberland County Sheriff 's Office, Fayetteville Police Department, Hope Mills Police Department, Spring Lake Police Department, CID from Fort Bragg, State Bureau of Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Child Protective Services with CCDSS, District At- torney's Office, Cumberland County District Court, Medical services at Southern Regional AHEC, Womack Army Medical Center and Cape Fear Val- ley Hospital, Rape Crisis, Alliance Health, Guardian ad Litem Program, Army Community Services and the Family Advocacy Program," said Humphries. Another way the Center helps the communinty is through education, providing child abuse preven- tion education to 2,325 adults. Additionally, more than 2,000 children received body safety instruction through storytimes that were held at 60 different locations during November 2019. A whopping 401 families received victim advo- cacy services. Children and caregivers received 315 mental health therapy appointments. e center also held group counseling for girls that meets every week and for boys every other week. Twenty-six case reviews were held with 242 reviewed by the full multi-disciplinary team. Even during tought times, the Center continues to serve the community. In keeping with the orders from Gov. Cooper, and in efforts to work safely, the Center has limited the number of people that can be in the Center at any one time maintaining recom- mended safety and cleaning procedures. "Currently our Center is still open, responding to requests from our partners to provide the forensic interview for children with allegations of abuse," Humphries said. "We also continue to provide vic- tim advocacy and counseling services." Like many organizations, the CAC has taken ad- vantage of available technology to accomodate as many people as possible. "We are offering coun- seling services via FaceTime or through Zoom meetings," said Humphries. e Center's services are always in demand and there are many ways to help. While the numbers of reports of abuse in the community are stag- gering, the amount of people who have received assistance from the Center speaks volumes about the people who serve through the Center. e Child Advocacy Center has volunteer opportuni- ties available throughout the year. "(In 2019), 1,283 hours of service were contributed by volunteers," Humphries said. Some of the tasks of volunteers include pro- viding clerical support to the center or making no-sew blankets, which are made from tying two pieces of fleece fabric together, and assembling care packages. Generous donations, whether they are monetary or commodities, are helpful. "We need individu- ally wrapped snacks and juice boxes. Donations of office supplies, gift cards to Chick-fil-A, Biscuitville, Panera Bread, Krispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts, Harris Teeter, Staples, Lowes, etc. are always beneficial," said Humphries. Additionally, the CAC needs volunteers to assist with fundraising and special events throughout the year. Fayetteville's Ultimate Lip Sync Showdown and the Pinwheel Masquerade Ball & Auction are two of the CAC's most popular events. e Lip Sync Showdown invites members of the community each year to compete for titles by lip syncing their favorite tunes. ere will also be a drawing for a smart TV, an Apple iPad, and a weekend getaway in Fayetteville with hotel and gift cards valued at $500. Tickets are $5 each or 5 for $20 and are available at the CAC. e fundraiser accounts for about 20% of the CAC's funding each year. e event has been postponed until June 20 and will take place in the Crown Ballroom. e Pinwheel Masquerade Ball, which offers an evening of fun at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden, is scheduled for Sept. 26. Visit https://www. childadvocacycenter.com/ for more information about the events In particular, the Center currently has a need for cleaning supplies like disinfectant spray, as well as masks for adults and children. anks to the Cumberland County Community Foundation, the Center has some emergency funding, but more support is always appreciated to fund the operations of the Center. In the midst of the current pandemic, experts have predicted that added stressors will lead to more abuse. With that being the case, the CAC is continuing their work to help alleviate the potential problems. For more information about the ways that the Child Advocacy Center serves the community, or to support the center, visit https://www.childadvoca- cycenter.com/ or call 910-486-9700. e Child Advocacy Center tirelessly serves the Cumberland County all year long. e community can support the organization by volunteering, donating or attending one of the Center's events. JENNA SHACKELFORD, Editor OF UP & COMING WEEKLY. COMMENTS? editor@upandcomingweekly.com. 910-484-6200.

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