Chicago Park District and Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center announce “Keeping Children Safe” initiative

Partnership will include policy implementations and trainings to equip parks staff to prevent, recognize and respond to child sexual abuse

Press Release | April 15, 2015

Chicago Park District and Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center (ChicagoCAC) are pleased to announce their partnership on the “Keeping Children Safe” initiative. This district-wide effort will include proactive policies and procedures to make preventing sexual abuse the routine, while continuing to promote positive interaction among children, youth and staff. The initiative has the potential to reach the approximately 250,000 children who use Chicago parks each year.

Beginning this month, Chicago Park District staff will attend trainings on preventing sexual abuse in programs and through the community, recognizing signs of abuse and responding appropriately to children who disclose abuse. ChicagoCAC will provide these trainings for the parks’ 1,500 direct service staff, as well as specialized trainings for staff who work with children with disabilities. Parks administrative and non-direct service staff will receive online trainings.

“The Chicago Park District’s mission and core values place children first,” said Matt Marino, Director of Workforce Development. “Children are our number one priority, and we are pleased to work with ChicagoCAC to offer our employees specialized training on keeping children safe.”

A key component of the trainings will be recognizing warning signs, or grooming behaviors. By identifying these signs, park staff will be able to intervene before grooming behaviors become child sexual abuse. Staff will be better equipped to keep children safe and take action potential adult or youth perpetrators. Staff will also understand signs of abuse so that they may respond accordingly if a child is abused at home or elsewhere.

“We’re proud to partner with Chicago Park District to help protect children from abuse,” said ChicagoCAC Executive Director Char Rivette, MSW, LCSW. “By equipping professionals with the tools to build safe environments and intervene before abuse happens, we’re creating safer places for children. We’re also ensuring park staff are among the trusted adults that children can tell if they are being abused, so children who need help can get the support they need to heal.”