Will County Children’s Advocacy Center Hosts Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony for New, State-of-the-Art Facility; Event Held During Child Abuse Prevention Month

The Will County Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) today celebrated the opening of  its new location at 1206 Cedarwood in Crest Hill with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The event was attended by State’s Attorney James Glasgow, County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant,  members of the Will County Board, Crest Hill Mayor Ray Soliman, law enforcement, and  members of the business and nonprofit community from throughout Will County. The state-of the-art facility provides an expanded, customized space for the CAC, which has served more  than 11,600 severely abused and neglected children since it was founded by Glasgow in 1995. 

New Will County Children’s Advocacy Center in Crest Hill

“It’s been a long journey to get where we are today. When our doors first opened, we operated  out of a donated office suite on the campus of Silver Cross Hospital with a financial contribution  from St. Joseph’s Hospital and a matching grant from the Department of Children & Family  Services,” Glasgow said. “The new building allows us to continue expanding to provide  additional services and resources for victimized children and their non-offending family  members.” 

Local officials including County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (second from left) and State’s Attorney James Glasgow (holding scissors) participating in the Will County Children’s Advocacy Ceremony’s ribbon cutting ceremony.

The CAC’s move to the new building was made possible through action by Will County  Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant and the Will County Board that provided the necessary  funding for the renovation of the new space to meet the needs of the CAC. 

Playground at the New Will County Children’s Advocacy Center in Crest Hill

“Today’s ribbon cutting is about collaboration and vision,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “We recognize  the sadness in the need for this service but are inspired by the commitment of our CAC staff to  make the families and children who walk through these doors feel safe and comforted.”

New Will County Children’s Advocacy Center in Crest Hill

Built in 2008 for a daycare center and preschool, the building has multiple outdoor fenced-in  areas that include playground amenities and equipment to provide a recreational area for the  children and a running area for the CAC’s therapy dogs. It also offers two forensic interview rooms in tandem with two multi-disciplinary team observation rooms, three private waiting  rooms for children and their families, and multiple individual and group counseling rooms. 

New Will County Children’s Advocacy Center in Crest Hill

“It is fitting that the ribbon cutting is taking place during Child Abuse Prevention Month, which  recognizes the importance of communities and families working together to address the issue of  child abuse and neglect,” said CAC Executive Director Lisa Morel Las. “Through collaborative  efforts and community awareness, the CAC works in cooperation with our community partners each and every day to create a safer and more hopeful future for all children.” 

To further raise awareness of Child Abuse Prevention Month, blue pinwheels have been  “planted” around the new Will County CAC as part of the Pinwheels for Prevention national  campaign to draw attention to the importance of child abuse prevention. More than one million  blue pinwheels have been planted since Prevent Child Abuse America introduced the blue  pinwheel as the national symbol for child abuse prevention efforts in 2008.  

Blue pinwheels symbolizing child abuse prevention adorn the outside of the new Will County CAC as part of National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Last year, the Will County CAC served 700 children from throughout Will County and  neighboring counties. That number has been growing each year. 

“Child sexual abuse is the most horrendous crime in society. Back in 1986, I prosecuted a case of  aggravated sexual assault on an 8-year-old girl. In 1995, she was thrown out of a moving car by  her boyfriend. She had gone to another abusive environment,” Glasgow said. “Today, we can  offer children in cases like this critical counseling with our highly trained, compassionate  counselors who help these children recognize their inherent value and worth. Our motto is  “Hope, Healing, and Justice, and that is exactly what the Will County CAC has provided to the  thousands of children who have walked through its doors.” 

After there has been a report to law enforcement or DCFS of a child’s severe physical abuse,  sexual abuse, commercial exploitation, neglect, and exposure to violence, the child is brought to  the CAC. The CAC uses a collaborative approach to taking a child’s statement with multi disciplinary team members that include law enforcement, mental health professionals, prosecution, and DCFS. The child tells their story once to a trained forensic interviewer who asks the questions in a non-leading manner that does not re-traumatize the child. This protects the integrity of the information gathered and allows prosecutors and investigators to thoroughly assess possible criminal offenses that may have been committed. The CAC also provides state of-the-art trauma- and family-based counseling, medical exams, legal advocacy, community  resource referrals, and other social services for victims and their non-offending family members. 

The Will County Children’s Advocacy Center is fully accredited by the National Children’s  Alliance and is an active member of the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Illinois.