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United Way and other nonprofits receive grant from Victims of Crime Act Crime Victims Fund

Kendra Wheeler, media relations manager

Cleveland (December 20, 2016) United Way of Greater Cleveland provided a $100,000 planning grant to the Domestic Violence Child Advocacy Center (DVCAC) to convene all community agencies serving victims of child abuse. As a result of the planning grant, the DVCAC received a $475,000 grant from the Victims of Crime Act Victims Fund. DVCAC will administer the grant to establish the first child advocacy center (CAC) in Cuyahoga County in partnership with government, nonprofit and law enforcement partners to better serve victims of various types of abuse ages 18 and younger.

DVCAC will partner with United Way of Greater Cleveland, Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, Cleveland Division of Police, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department, Domestic Relations and Juvenile Court, FrontLine Service, the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth, University Hospitals and other organizations to develop the CAC which will create staff positions for planning and service delivery.

CACs holistically serve children who are victims of abuse, particularly sexual abuse. Without a CAC, child victims must tell and retell their story to multiple law enforcement and treatment agencies. With a CAC in place, Greater Cleveland abuse victims are interviewed with all partners watching on closed-circuit TV or from a two-way mirror to minimize the chance of re-traumatizing the victim. The CAC also assures a quality and competent investigation and intervention.

“CACs are a coordinated delivery of services that prioritizes the victim’s healing and increases prosecution rates,” said United Way Associate Vice President of Community Impact Nancy Mendez. “The new CAC, which is slated for operation in mid to late 2017, will streamline an abundance of children’s services such as victim advocacy, medical and mental health services, child protective services and everything the child needs to fully heal.”

There are more than 900 CACs across the United States. According to the National Children’s Alliance, between January and June 2016 more than 165,000 children were served by CACs throughout the U.S. with the top three needs as sexual abuse, physical abuse and witnessing acts of violence. Cuyahoga County’s CAC will mark the 29th in Ohio. Cleveland is the last major metropolitan community in the state to develop a CAC.

“Community collaboration is key to becoming more effective in addressing and responding to child abuse,” said DVCAC CEO Linda Johanek. “We are fortunate to have a plethora of partners dedicated to decreasing child trauma and coordinating services to have a positive impact on children and families in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. This is a major step forward for our community.”

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