In an effort to improve the lives of abused children in Collier County the Children's Advocacy Center looks at the latest trends and research for both the prevention and intervention of child abuse. One of the key studies that inform what we do is the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) is the term given to describe all types of abuse, neglect, and other traumatic experiences that occur to individuals under the age of 18. The ACE Study examined the relationships between these experiences during childhood and reduced health and well-being later in life. For a deeper look into some of the findings click here.
Services are provided without regard for race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability or religion. For more information or a disability accommodation, please contact our main office.
Child Protection Team
The Child Protection Team (CPT) is at the core of what we do to improve the lives of abused children. The Child Protection Team (CPT) program is a medically directed, multidisciplinary program that works with local Sheriff's offices and the Department of Children and Family Services in cases of child abuse and neglect to supplement investigation activities.
Child protection teams provide expertise in evaluating alleged child abuse and neglect, assessing risk and protective factors, and providing recommendations for interventions to protect children and enhance a caregiver's capacity to provide a safer environment when possible.
Our Child Protection Team in Collier County includes a Medical Director, Pediatricians, a Team Coordinator, a Psychological Consultant, Child Protection Case Coordinators, Attorneys and Support Staff. Each of our child protection specialists possess professional credentials and experience in either nursing or social work.
The Collier County CPT has met the stringent requirements to be awarded the designation of Full Member of the National Children’s Alliance, a countrywide network of child advocacy centers.
Abused Children Have a Higher Risk for
Parenting Programs work to improve the quality of parent-child relationships and change how parents and children interact with one another.
In order to improve the lives of abused children the CAC has put together a core set of strategies that address the needs of children and their families. The Parenting Education Program is one strategy that looks at creating and strengthening parenting skills for high-risk families. The families that participate in Parenting Education Program are under the supervision of Family Preservation Services and have been referred to us through the dependency court system. The typical parent that participates in this program has either had their child removed from their home or is under the strict supervision of Family Preservation Services. If referred, the parent must complete the parenting course in order to regain custody of their child and/or to complete their case plan tasks as assigned by the court.
The course curriculum that Parenting Education Program follows is the Nurturing Parenting Program, authored by Dr. Stephen J. Bavolek, Ph.D. The parenting classes are conducted one-on-one, once a week for 12 weeks and each session is an hour and a half long. The classes can be held in the client’s home or in the CAC offices, at the convenience of the client. The sessions start with a Social Assessment, a Structured Observation, and include readings from the Nurturing Parenting Program book, educational video clips, discussions, role-plays, and homework assignments. The key concepts of the program include empathy, child development, family roles, alternatives to corporal punishment, and encouraging independence. The parents are expected to complete all assignments and to be active participants in the program.
Throughout the course, PEP staff works collaboratively with Family Preservation Services, providing progress reports, to ensure that the parents are participating properly and following all rules and regulations. At the conclusion of the 12 weeks, PEP staff completes a final report that summarizes the parent’s progress and provides recommendations as a result of the observations during the meetings. Recommendations can include mental health counseling, obtaining employment, obtaining daycare for their children, as well as many others.
The CAC Counseling Program provides specialized, evidence-based therapeutic services at no cost to child survivors of physical or sexual abuse. Therapy services are also offered to siblings and non-offending caregivers that are affected by the abuse. The counseling services assist families in recovering from trauma, help prevent the long-term psychological effects of victimization, and promote healthy, non-abusive relationships. The CAC’s Counseling Program is the only program in Collier County that specializes in treating abuse victims, using trauma-focused, evidence-based treatments. Individual, group, and family therapy services are available. The Counseling Program is a member of the statewide network of Sexual Abuse Treatment Programs, which is monitored by the Florida Department of Health in order to ensure that the highest level of counseling services are provided to victims and their families.
In order to be eligible for treatment, there must be either a Florida Abuse Hotline and/or law enforcement report indicating an allegation of physical or sexual abuse. Referrals are made primarily by the Child Protection Team, Department of Children and Families, law enforcement, and other community agencies. However, individuals can make direct referrals if they meet the above eligibility requirements.
Children who are abused have a strikingly different developmental course than children who have not been abused. If left untreated, the scars of childhood abuse will last a lifetime.
Family Safety Program
Studies show that 3-4 million children between the ages of 3-17 are at risk of exposure to domestic violence each year. Children need a safe environment to see their non-custodial parent.
With episodes of domestic violence, abuse, and neglect occurring at a more steadily increasing rate within Collier County, the CAC recognized a need to create an environment where children and families may interact safely and appropriately. In 1997, we implemented the Family Safety Program deeply committed to our mission to enhance families’ capabilities to provide a safe environment for their children by providing family assessments, supervised visitations and safe exchanges. The program serves victims of domestic violence and their children. Each time our center conducts a supervised visit or monitors a safe exchange; we are preventing a possible incidence of violence.
Based on a referral system, the CAC’s Family Safety Program services clients who are appointed an order from the courts. Governed by strictly enforced rules that require the participants in a “safe exchange” to stagger their arrival and departure times to prevent stalking and unnecessary confrontation, the child and victim’s safety are always a priority. Supervised visits between parent and child are monitored diligently by the CAC staff. If the child’s safety is being jeopardized at any time during the visit, services may be suspended at the discretion of the staff supervisor.
What makes our program unique is that there are no fees charged to crime victims, including children affected by domestic violence. Victims may also be eligible for the Crime Victim Compensation Program, which pays for counseling for child witnesses to domestic violence. Families are provided with case management including personal advocacy and support, crisis counseling, and follow-up with the victim(s).
School, Court, and Family Based Advocacy
The School, Court, and Family Based Advocacy program began in 1999 to provide the early identification of physical and sexual child abuse and neglect. The CAC places a professionally trained youth advocate within selected Collier County Public Schools. Studies have shown that children who are victims of these forms of abuse are less likely to focus on learning, are at high risk for re-victimization, can become perpetrators of violence and are at risk as adults to repeat the cycle of violence. The focus of this program is to stop the cycle of violence by assisting the child in accessing support and community services.
Youth Advocates also conduct educational and prevention activities for youths in the classroom and provide teacher training throughout the county.
Children's Advocacy Center is a 501(c)(3) 1036 Sixth Avenue North Naples, Florida 34102 firstname.lastname@example.org 239.263.8383
Services are provided without regard for race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability or religion.
For more information or a disability accommodation, please contact our main office.