Will County Children’s Advocacy Center Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony for New Crest Hill Building

CREST HILL – 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 and members of the Crest Hill City Council, 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.

“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.”

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.

“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.”

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.

“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.

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.

# # #