Mon County Child Advocacy Center 2023 data released – The Dominion Post

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Kids come first at the Monongalia County Child Advocacy Center (MCCAC), an organization that keeps its focus on what is in the best interest of children and their families in the aftermath of trauma.

The mission of MCCAC is to advocate for children who have been abused or encountered other adverse childhood experiences by providing a child-friendly and safe environment where children and their families can be interviewed, supported and healed.

MCCAC provides resiliency-building services including forensic interviews, family advocacy and therapy. They work collaboratively with prosecutors, law enforcement officers, child protection workers, medical professionals, mental health professionals and victim advocates to investigate abuse, hold offenders accountable, and help children along their roads to recovery.

Since the doors opened in April 2005, the center and its services have continued to grow and expand. The organization moved to its permanent home at 909 Green Bag Road in 2013 and later expanded that facility, adding an additional 700 square feet to the building in 2021.

According to data recently released by MCCAC, it served 629 clients in 2023.

Taylor Shultz, director of awareness and development at MCCAC, said that number is up from the 459 it served in 2022.

The center more than doubled the number of forensic interviews conducted, interviewing 246 children in 2023. In 2022, 118 kids underwent the process.

Shultz said in 2022 the center provided family advocacy services for 5,329 residents. That number grew to 5,807 in 2023.

Therapy sessions provided in 2023 totaled 1,195, which was a small decrease from the 1,271 therapy sessions held in 2022, Shultz said.

Dr. Laura Capage, executive director/licensed psychologist at MCCAC said the 2023 data “showcases the incredible impact our team has had on the lives of children and families in our community. Through our multidisciplinary approach and trauma-informed services, we have been able to provide support and healing to those who have experienced abuse or neglect. While there is still much work to be done, we are inspired by the progress we have made and remain committed to advocating for the safety and well-being of all children.”

Additional 2023 data released by the center showed 45% of the children served were there because of allegations of sexual abuse. Allegations of drug endangerment accounted for 11%.

Of the children served by MCCAC in 2023, 44% were between 7-12 years old.

The vast majority, 85%, of alleged offenders were someone the child knew.

In addition to the child advocacy program, MCCAC offers three other programs — community education, preventative care and drug-endangered children.

The community education program provides education on child abuse, child-abuse prevention techniques and resources available in the community. West Virginia University students can also receive training on how to evaluate, treat and support child-abuse victims and their families through MCCAC’s internship program.

The preventative care program works with kids who have been identified as at-risk by Monongalia County Schools. Many of the children have experienced loss, significant anxiety and depressive symptoms, involvement with the court systems, or other traumatic experiences not covered by other programs. The program includes both therapy and family advocacy.

Families impacted by parental drug and alcohol abuse benefit from MCCAC’s drug-endangered children program. Both adults and children receive treatment through the program as parental drug use impacts the entire family. The program also incorporates family advocacy, therapeutic parenting and parent-child relationship enhancement with the goal of keeping families together.

MCCAC operates as a nonprofit and is able to keep its doors open thanks to donations from the community, along with grant funding. Children and families will have no out-of-pocket costs for using their services or participating in their programs, Shultz said.

For more information on the work being done at the Monongalia County Children’s Advocacy Center or to donate to the cause, visit the website or call 304-598-0344.

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