When a child discloses that they have been sexually abused, a family’s world is turned upside down. Caregivers may feel scared, confused and alone, unsure of where to look for help. All they know is that they must do everything they can to protect their child and help them heal.
This is the unfortunate reality for countless families every year. Child sexual abuse is a silent epidemic, and it can have devastating consequences for its victims.

But there is hope. Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center (ChicagoCAC) is a lifeline for children who have experienced sexual abuse or other serious maltreatment. With your help, we provide comprehensive services to children and their families, including forensic interviews, advocacy, and mental health counseling. We are the only organization in Chicago that collaborates with law enforcement and child protective services, under one roof, to provide a coordinated investigative process.

None of this is possible without you. Only with your financial support can we help children like Sophie.

When 10-year-old Sophie* came to ChicagoCAC, she was scared and withdrawn. She had been through so much, and she didn’t know how to cope. But our team of experts was there to help every step of the way.

We started by providing Sophie with a safe and supportive environment where she could tell her story. Our child life specialist helped her to feel comfortable and at ease by sharing with her a baseball card with fun facts about our beloved facility dog, Mac. Sophie smiled as she learned about Mac and couldn’t wait to meet him. As she felt safe and supported, she was comfortable enough to open up and share about her traumatic experience. The detective and child protection investigator observed the interview and used the information to create a safety plan and hold the abuser accountable. Not long after, Sophie was introduced to the real-life Mac, and as you would expect, her smile lit up the room. Sophie has such fond memories of that day that she calls it “Mac Day.”

Sophie was referred to our Family Hope Center where she began weekly therapy sessions. Her therapist helped Sophie begin to develop positive coping skills to thrive (as they do with every child we serve) and of course, Mac is always ready to help Sophie navigate a particularly hard session. Because of donors like you, Sophie is now on a journey of healing. She is still working through the trauma of her abuse, but she is making progress every day.

The challenge we face is that Sophie is not alone. There are thousands of other children like her who need your help. That’s why I’m asking you to make a generous gift to ChicagoCAC today. We walk alongside kids like Sophie every step of the way as they begin their journey of seeking justice, hope, and healing. We pride ourselves on providing children with a safe place to tell their story and receive vital therapy services when needed most.

48,000 children have received services through ChicagoCAC since 2001 thanks to your continued support. We serve more than 2,200 kids per year, having a deep and lasting impact on the lives of children and families in our local community. We also reach thousands of caregivers and professionals with prevention education to help keep children safe.

Your gift will help ensure that every child who comes through our doors has the support they need to heal and thrive. It will also protect them, and all of Chicago’s children, from abuse.

Will you become a donor today and change the future of a child?

Will you help make many more “Mac Days” happen for children like Sophie?

Give Today to support children like Sophie.

As a passionate mission and metrics-driven leader with a strong background in strategic planning, fundraising, and marketing we are excited to welcome Nakia Kyler to our team. As the Chief Development & Marketing Officer, Nakia is responsible for fostering a culture of philanthropy by leading the design and oversight of all fundraising and communication activities.

Before joining ChicagoCAC, Nakia was the Chief Engagement and Equity Officer at the West Michigan Partnership for Children. She drove the agency’s overarching vision to advance DEIAB efforts while strengthening organizational growth. She led strategic planning sessions with the Board and senior staff to identify a road map for growth and sustainability. She collaborated with program staff to strengthen their programming and grant strategies. In this role, she also served as the Head of Marketing developing annual marketing strategies, social media, and countywide awareness campaigns.

As the Global Director of Philanthropy at Bethany Christian Services, Nakia secured major gifts to ensure the safety and protection of the most vulnerable children and families around the world. In this role, Nakia established play therapy spaces addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and expanded their free social services and trauma-informed practices. She educated donor communities on the importance of funding evidence-based practices and combining both community-centric and donor-centric strategies. With a key focus on scaling up programming, she advised donors and board members on the importance of investing in family-strengthening practices and psychosocial support programs to strengthen the lives of the children and families they served.

While working at Susan G. Komen Michigan, Nakia utilized her business banking techniques, which she acquired working at J.P. Morgan Chase, to identify key donors and volunteers creating strategic growth plans in her 5 County service area. As a convener, working at the Alabama Governor’s Office of Faith-based & Community Initiatives, Nakia helped build the capacity of Alabama nonprofits to address critical needs in their local communities.

With over 15 years of experience, securing major gifts, integrating strength-based storytelling in marketing campaigns, and building community collaborations, Nakia is excited to join the ChicagoCAC community to help protect children, battle abuse, and restore the lives of children and families we serve. Nakia earned a BA from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and looks forward to making Chicago, Illinois her new home.

We got a chance to ask Nakia a few questions about her goals in her new position and why she chose ChicagoCAC.

What made you interested in choosing Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center?

Every child deserves the right to live in a safe, nurturing, healthy, and supportive environment. Creating safe and open environments is vital to ensuring children are socially, physically, and emotionally secure. Child sexual abuse can have long-term psychological, physical, and behavioral impacts potentially hindering their ability to reach their full potential.

ChicagoCAC’s innovative approach to implementing trauma-informed practices in a child-friendly environment while housing a multidisciplinary team of professionals addressing child sexual abuse under one roof clearly demonstrates their ability to effectively develop cutting-edge trauma-informed systems. Joining the ChicagoCAC community affords me the opportunity to continue to advocate on behalf of children who experienced abuse and neglect to ensure they receive the necessary resources to begin their journey to recovery and support their ability to thrive.

Since this is your first time living in Chicago, is there anything you’re excited about or look forward to trying once settled into the city?

I look forward to enjoying the amazing food, experiencing Chicago’s growing art scene, and discovering the wonderful world of Chicago jazz.

What’s your favorite movie?


Since it’s Mental Health Awareness Month, what do you do for self-care?

My self-care consists of shopping, binge-watching comedies, baking desserts from scratch, and going to the spa.

During Child Abuse Prevention Month this year, we’re asking you to paint one of your pinky fingernails blue as a Pinky Promise to represent and raise awareness for the 1 in 10 children who will experience sexual abuse before they turn 18. If people ask you about your painted fingernail – because of course they will! – here’s a few approaches, tips and conversation starters to help them learn more about the issue and join you in becoming a safe, supportive person for the youth around you.

If you join us in our Pinky Promise endeavor during April, be sure to take a photo of yourself and your nails and post it on social media with the hashtap #PinkyPromiseCAPM…and ask your friends to join you!

Iszy Martinez is a Bilingual Child Life Assistant and Facility Dog Handler at ChicagoCAC. Their role ensures clients feel safe, comfortable, and looked after during the client visit. On top of all of that, they are also part of a team that takes care of Mac, our facility dog.

Iszy’s caring and compassionate nature has made them the perfect addition to ChicagoCAC and the Child Life Team. We asked them a few questions about their role, Child Life, and the importance of their work.

What is your role at ChicagoCAC?

Bilingual Child Life Assistant and Facility Dog Handler

What is Child Life?

Child Life provides children and families with support and assistance in developing ways to cope with stress, anxiety, or fear through play and creative expression! We provide self-agency and a sense of control by giving options and making sure the children and family at our center feel heard, seen, and safe. Child Life provides snacks, games/toys, crafts, coping education, therapeutic activities, and Mac, our facility dog for cuddly comfort!

Why did you choose a career in it?

To be completely honest, a year ago I didn’t know what Child Life was. I worked for my mother’s daycare for the majority of my upbringing and worked as a preschool teacher for several years and realized I love working with children and the youth- they are our future.  Learning more about Child Life, I thought it was a good fit. I love the idea of overcoming anxieties through playing with dolls or painting your emotions out on a jumbo canvas while listening to music.

Why ChicagoCAC?

I believe that the mission and vision of ChicagoCAC is super important and something I feel deeply passionate about. Although the fight against abuse towards children appears never-ending, it feels impactful to be part of an organization that actively advocates and champions those affected.

What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical day consists of reading up on cases before the FIs (forensic interviews/interviewers) come in to be best equipped for these children’s and families’ needs. Assessing if Mac our facility dog would be beneficial for their visits. Ensuring they feel safe and understand why they are here, providing education on the center and FI process if they are unsure, and providing coping education-letting kids pick out a fidget! If there are any concerns or information from clients that are observed while interacting with them, it is communicated with the rest of the MDT (multi-disciplinary team). Lots of direct service with the clients.

I typically love using/promoting creative expression with our kids after their FIs so I will sometimes provide crafts, painting, and even a painting session with Mac. 😊 There are times I am providing support in the Family Hope Center Playroom, where you’ll see me playing Uno or board games with kiddos and/or their families.

Are you looking forward to anything in ChicagoCAC’s future?

The expansion of Mental Health services for adults is something very exciting and very much needed.

Nathaniel Williams is the Transportation & Support Services Manager at ChicagoCAC, but he’s so much more to staff and clients. He is often the first person we meet when arriving at ChicagoCAC, the person we go to when we need help, and the person who keeps the center running smoothly.

We wanted to highlight Nathaniel this month and ask him about his favorite moments at ChicagoCAC.

What brought you to ChicagoCAC?

What brought me to the ChicagoCAC was the position. While looking for employment, I sought a position that would allow me to develop as a leader and a space where I would make a difference. After learning more about what the organization offers to the community, I knew immediately it was the job for me. 

What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical day for me here starts with a round of the building, I do a visual inspection of all areas as well as greet staff to see if they have any concerns. I check in with my team shortly after to look at our upcoming schedule for the day.

You can typically find me running around the building, dealing with a request, or a concern but, I also oversee transportation, and sometimes pick up clients and bring them into the center. Also, I may cover security and or reception when needed. Whether it’s dealing with a vendor, or putting a name on a door, I attend to the unexpected at the center. 

What is a rewarding experience you’ve had while working at ChicagoCAC?      

One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had at the Chicago CAC was when I assisted with the Kids Holiday Party last December. To be on the front line and see all the toys and assistance we provided to families was so amazing. After the long day, I couldn’t help but smile thinking of all the families we impacted and it brought great joy knowing we had the chance to brighten their holidays. 

What are you looking forward to for ChicagoCAC’s future?          

I’m looking forward to the CAN Hope project for ChicagoCAC’s future, to be able to offer collocated resources to adult victims in addition to the work we are currently doing with children and their families, is an amazing goal!

I think about the vulnerable families we offer support, resources, and trauma-informed care and the impact that we have, to be able to expand those offerings to adult victims as well, brings a sense of pride that our organization is doing the work. We are boots on the ground when it comes to helping victims of abuse heal. 

ChicagoCAC is committed to serving children who have been trafficked and every case we receive is reviewed for red flags of human trafficking. Earlier this month, our Human Trafficking Therapist, Courtney Bunn, MSW, LCSW, was interviewed for a story with Scripps News Network that was also picked up by ABC News Affiliates.

“That image that people have of somebody in chains, you know, tied to a bed, something like that, just isn’t the most common situation. More so what we’re seeing is somebody in close relationship [with the victim] being the facilitator of the exploitation,” Courtney said during her portion of the interview.

Courtney, along with representatives of the Salvation Army and Milwaukee-based non-profit, RUBIES, discussed the coercive nature of human trafficking and ways to prevent it.

If you suspect or know a child is a victim of human trafficking, please reach out to the Illinois DCFS Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-2873. DCFS is a part of ChicagoCAC’s Multi-Disciplinary Team working hard to get victims of child sexual abuse the justice and help they deserve.

You can watch the video below or read the article here for the full story.

We are saddened to hear that sexual misconduct cases continued to rise within CPS in 2022 after the latest CPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) report came out earlier this month. Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center remains committed as a resource to CPS in their investigations of these cases.

Char Rivette, Chief Executive Officer of ChicagoCAC added, “We believe that the collaborative approach among investigating agencies utilized at ChicagoCAC reduces the trauma to the victims of child sexual abuse while an investigation is proceeding. We also believe that opportunity and availability of services for victims of child sexual abuse and their families including advocacy, medical and mental health treatment is important to the restoration of children after cases are reported.”

ChicagoCAC offers sexual abuse recognition training and prevention for the education of students, teachers, school workers, and parents. Please contact Karina Gil, Director of Education, Outreach and Prevention, at kgil@chicagocac.org for further information.

Click here to read the full report.

Sherrise and Max Trotz are a giving couple who serve on ChicagoCAC’s Board of Directors.

We interviewed them to see how their “time, talents, and treasures” have inspired and motivated their commitment to ChicagoCAC.

How long have you both been on the Board of Directors for ChicagoCAC? How did you become connected to our work?

Sherrise: 3 years

Max: 6 months

What drew you into supporting us?

We have always been drawn to organizations that focus on assisting children in healing and creating a path forward to discover and live their purpose.

What does philanthropy mean to you?

Serving and, ultimately, loving people and organizations through the giving of time, talents, and treasures.

What inspires you most about our work and what motivates you to give back to your communities?

The biggest inspiration is all the people dedicated to serving and loving the children that enter the doors of ChicagoCAC. We admire the fact that ChicagoCAC provides an environment comprised of a multidisciplinary approach to begin and continue the trauma-healing process of the children and their families. 

We believe in paying it forward and giving back resources that we have been blessed to receive because to “whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48).

What would you say to someone who’s considering ChicagoCAC as a cause to support?

It is so unfortunate that we witness and live in a world with vast child abuse of all forms. However, we/you can join the mission of ChicagoCAC of eradicating child sex abuse through your time, talents, and treasures! 

This month, we wanted to highlight Bilingual Forensic Interviewer, America Arroyo. Her passion for helping kids get justice and tell their story led her here to ChicagoCAC. However, it was her kind heart and generosity that we wanted to share with everyone.

What do you do at ChicagoCAC?

I started working at the CAC last year as a family services coordinator and recently transitioned to work as a bilingual forensic interviewer! Before starting work here, I didn’t even know what a forensic interviewer was. But when I found out, I knew I wanted to work in that field.

What does a typical day look like for you?

On a typical day, I work closely with children and families as part of the investigation process. I also work with great coworkers who motivate me and encourage me to grow as an interviewer.

What keeps you at ChicagoCAC?

I love the mission of the ChicagoCAC and feeling like I am making a difference every day when I wake up and go to work.

You are uniquely connected to our current raffle for Taylor Swift tickets. How?

Well, I have been a big Taylor Swift fan for a very long time. When the presales for her concert tickets began, my friends, my boyfriend, and I all scrambled to get tickets. Being able to obtain tickets became a lot more difficult than any of us expected it but my boyfriend got really lucky with being able to get two floor tickets for her show in Tampa. However, at this point, my friends and I had managed to obtain tickets to her Chicago show. He knew that floor tickets for one of her concerts could be worth a lot and he wanted something good to come out of it. That was when he had the idea of reaching out to the CAC and seeing if they could be raffled off. He is highly supportive and appreciative of the work that we do here, he loves that the tickets are now being used for a good cause and that they are going to benefit so many people.

With the holiday season coming up, are you looking forward to any traditions?

We don’t really do traditions, but my family and I are going to Mexico to spend Christmas and New Years with my family there. I’m really looking forward to it!

Our own Char Rivette, Chief Executive Officer, and Jason Wynkoop, Chief Program Officer, Advocacy, & Investigative Services, have been in the news recently talking about ChicagoCAC, the need for healing from trauma, and violation of privacy.

First, Rivette was on WBEZ’s Reset on August 17 to talk about ChicagoCAC’s new initiative, CAN Hope, and the need to provide survivors of sexual and domestic violence a place to heal. You can listen to Rivette speak here.

Next, Wynkoop was asked to comment on a piece of news involving an invasion of privacy on women who accused a man of groping them. The man was subsequently charged, but court filings were not properly handled and names and addresses of victims were not redacted. You can see Wynkoop’s response to this here.

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