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2017 Year in Review

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Chicago children and families served

In 2017, ChicagoCAC responded to 2,068 reports of child sexual abuse. We provided:

  • 1,975 families with family advocacy to explain the investigative process and secure the immediate resources and support they needed.
  • 1,824 children with forensic interviews, giving them a place to talk about what happened in their own words, in their own way, to experts who listened to them, protected them and helped them heal.
  • 213 children under age 3 with coordinated, multi-disciplinary response to reports of suspected physical abuse.
  • 230 children with mental health therapy at ChicagoCAC, helping them overcome trauma and heal from abuse. We also connected an additional 110 children to therapy through our PATHH partners.

In addition, our expert teams are called on to assist child victims of many traumas. We provided family advocacy, forensic interviews and other healing services to:

  • 235 children who had witnessed violence
  • 189 children who were at risk of harm
  • 83 children who had experienced physical abuse
  • 48 children who had been trafficked

In 2018, we expect to serve more children and families across our programs, as victims and survivors speak up nationwide through #MeToo and other advocacy initiatives.

#MeToo: Sex abuse and assault in the national conversation

Millions of women and men worldwide joined voices through #MeToo. Survivors have spoken up against perpetrators and shared powerful statements, including Olympic medalist McKayla Maroney, Lupita Nyong’o and Terry Crews, to name a few.

A culture that believes victims, that allows victims to come forward without fear of retaliation or blame, that holds perpetrators accountable – this is what we need now more than ever! This is how we make a lasting impact today and tomorrow.

That’s why we at ChicagoCAC do what we do, every day, for victims of child sexual abuse. We believe them, protect them and help them heal. We equip adults to prevent abuse. We ensure that adults recognize the signs and know how to help. We take the power away from predators.

We are eager to continue joining voices with – and on behalf of – victims and survivors in 2018.

Statute of limitations eliminated in Illinois

In August, Gov. Rauner signed Senate Bill 189 into law, removing the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. This legislation ensures that time never runs out for victims of abuse to seek justice – and it helps protect our community from known perpetrators.

ChicagoCAC staff and volunteers advocated strongly for the legislation, and it passed unanimously in the Illinois House and Senate. To be notified about this and other advocacy alerts, sign up for our advocacy alerts.

ChicagoCAC 2017 Year in Review - Statute of Limitations

Education, Outreach & Prevention Team reaches more adults than ever

In 2017, our education, outreach and prevention (EOP) team reached more than 9,400 adults with trainings on preventing, recognizing, responding to and reporting child sexual abuse. Highlights include:

  • In January, we led a training for 160 new detectives, teaching them about our work on investigations of child sexual and physical abuse, as well as our forensic interviewing services for many types of cases.
  • Our fall symposium, Circles of Safety, featured Jenny Coleman of Stop it Now! More than 90 professionals learned about healthy sexuality in childhood and how it relates to abuse prevention.
  • Over the summer, we trained hundreds of 911 call-takers and dispatchers at Chicago Office of Emergency Management & Communications. This extension of our own multidisciplinary team is an essential part of getting many children and families the care they need after abuse is reported.
  • The team presented nationally about our collaboration with Chicago Park District at the National Children’s Advocacy Center Annual Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama, in March and at the National Recreation and Parks Association Conference in New Orleans in September.

We lead customized, low-cost trainings for workplaces, community groups, places of worship and parents. Learn more about our trainings and help us keep momentum going in 2018. 

Families join in community building

Throughout the year, our therapists, family support specialists and volunteers hosted community-building activities in our Family Hope Center. Our families enjoyed holiday crafts, treats, dinners and even movies, all in the comfort and safety of the center. We love having our families together in a safe, fun environment as they reinforce lessons from therapy, such as patience and support – and they love it, too!ChicagoCAC 2017 Year in Review - Family Hope Center Craft Nights

Children receive back-to-school backpacks, holiday gifts

In August, hundreds of our children received backpacks filled with school supplies. Through our donation drive, generous community members collected backpacks, notebooks, writing utensils and more to give our children in need the tools to succeed in the year ahead.

At our Kids’ Holiday Party in December, more than 300 children and caregivers celebrated the season over lunch, games, crafts and other activities in a safe, joyful environment. Generous volunteers donated thousands of toys so our caregivers could “shop” for their children free of charge. The party is always one of our most special days of the year, and our families were deeply grateful.

Child Abuse Prevention Month activities raise awareness, support

In recognition of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month, our Community Advisory Council hosted BEYOND WORDS at The Public House Theater. Survivors and their family members, including dozens of our clients, created t-shirts and fabric squares sharing their strength and their journeys to healing. The exhibit traveled throughout the city to continue raising awareness during the month. Shirts were displayed at the Thompson Center, Garfield Park Fieldhouse and Ogden Park Fieldhouse.

In addition, our EOP team hosted four community trainings in April, including two entirely new curricula on supporting non-offending caregivers and changing our understanding of youth with sexually problematic behavior.ChicagoCAC 2017 Year in Review - Beyond Words

New playground gives children space to play outdoors

Generous supporters Monica and Rob Breslow (pictured here with Char) donated an entirely new playground to the center. The beautiful new structure is a welcoming, safe place for our children to play. In the spring, we celebrated their gift among family, friends and staff at our playground grand opening.

Our children immediately made use of the beautiful new space. From one staff member: “I took my client out to the playground yesterday, and as soon as we walked into the area, she exclaimed, ‘It’s a dream come true!!’ She proceeded to explore every single feature, all the while cheering things like, ‘There’s a telescope! I can see the building next door!’ and ‘There’s a mirror! I can see you!’ She said several times, ‘All the kids are going to have so much fun!'”ChicagoCAC 2017 Year in Review - New Playground with Breslows

Fundraising events raise record amounts

At our third annual Luminary Award Dinner, we honored Anne Pramaggiore, president and CEO of ComEd, for her longtime support of ChicagoCAC and her strong advocacy for children. The event raised more than $425,000 for our programs and services, including more than $80,000 for our Growing & Giving campaign.

In October, our tenth annual Guys’ & Gals’ Night Out for the Kids raised more than $100,000. Hundreds of attendees enjoyed delicious treats, an open bar, a silent auction and much more to support children and families healing from abuse in Chicago.

ChicagoCAC 2017 Year in Review - Luminary Award Dinner

Stay up-to-date on all of ChicagoCAC’s work by subscribing to our monthly e-newsletter and following us on Facebook and Twitter.

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