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Child Advocacy Center receives grant for on-site counseling services of abuse victims

The Madison County Child Advocacy Center is now providing on-site therapy to abused children, thanks to a Victims of Crime Act grant.

madisoncountylogo“This has transformed the lives of children dealing with abuse allegations, CAC Director Carrie Cohan said. “We are now offering on site counseling services and providing therapy to assist families while they’re at the Center.”

Estimates show there are around 3,500 cases of child abuse that take place in Madison County each year. The CAC conducts approximately 500 interviews each year involving allegations of severe physical and sexual abuse.

“Each of those children we interview are impacted by trauma,” Cohan said. “This is where expertise and training is important in the healing process.”

Cohan said that after receiving the grant funds through the VOCA grant, the center contracted with Alternatives Counseling Inc. for a therapist to provide on-site crisis intervention services to children and families that utilize the center.

Patty Radcliffe, a licensed clinical professional counselor, serves as the center’s therapist. For the past 29 years, she’s worked with children and families in a variety of settings to include outpatient and inpatient mental health, behavioral health, schools and community-based health settings.

“Seeing children and families every day who experience serious crises, significant traumatic events and abuse, it’s important to me to know I am offering the best services and help that I can,” Radcliffe said.

This led Radcliffe to receive her national certification in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a treatment available to children ages 3 to 17 (and their caregivers) who experienced some type of abuse or traumatic event. Research shows that this type of therapy is effective in reducing symptoms related to post trauma stress.

“I feel really fortunate as a professional to be able to offer and provide this type of treatment,” Radcliffe said. “Every day, I get to teach kids and caregivers new skills — whether it’s feelings identification, relaxation, or teaching them about trauma so that they know their symptoms are normal reactions to abnormal circumstances that they have endured and survived.”

Surviving a trauma such as a physical or sexual abuse can be traumatic. It can also become isolating for children and their families, especially if the perpetrator was a family member.

Radcliffe said there are many steps to process and it is a lot of work, but there are ways to make it fun and entertaining.

“I’m always using a book, game, toys, art, worksheets, and movement,” she said. “I tell kids and families every day…I want them to know that they can and will get better.”

Cohan said Radcliffe’s expertise is incredibly valuable to the center.

The CAC is a resource for children who are brave enough to disclose abuse. Through a confidential forensic interview, children are able to share their story one time in a safe and supportive environment. In addition to providing a forensic interview, the center also provides case management services to assist families who utilize the center with connections to resources, such as counseling.

The center is an accredited member of the National Children’s Alliance and designed to make children as comfortable as possible. For more information, visit www.madco-cac.org or contact the Center at (618) 296-5390.

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