When the Proviso Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) opened its doors 20 years ago, it was one of the first agencies in the state and the nation to develop "victim sensitive" procedures for child victims of sexual abuse.
Now, there are 35 similar advocacy centers in Illinois and hundreds across the country. The CAC recently celebrated its 20th anniversary at a luncheon with participating agencies.
Basically, the program brings all interested agencies - police, prosecutors and social workers - together to conduct one interview. The interview is done in a child-friendly room and in child-friendly terms. In 20 years, the CAC has handled 4,000 reports of possible child abuse, involving 3,300 children and teens. More than 2,900 investigations have been conducted, resulting in charges against 400 adults.
Just about every single individual involved in these cases, victims and their families, takes advantage of the social services offered there, helping them to recover. The program has been a model for the state and the nation.