by SARAH NACHIN
The Children's Advocacy Center of Hernando County (CAC) recently received a grant for $2,000. Rodney Tower, a retired police officer who is now a Senior Manager for Law Enforcement Relations with a company called Aftermath presented the check to the organization on Monday, September 16. Several years ago, Aftermath instituted a program called “Why We Serve.” Each year, they hold a contest throughout the United States for community based non-profit organizations to develop a public service announcement (PSA) detailing who they are and what they do. The videos are posted on social media sites and the community members vote for their favorite PSA. Out of fifteen semi-finalists the CAC took fourth place this year for its PSA directed by Lt. William Power of the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.
Featured in the public service announcement was Turbo, a therapy dog. He is a six-year-old male Golden Retriever. His owner, Rita Spillers, brings Turbo to the center every Wednesday to visit with the children.
One foster mother states, “I’m a foster mother and sometimes, my kids are not happy about coming to therapy, but if they know Turbo’s going to be here- they’re ready to go… They find comfort in him. He seems to sense, when any one of them are having a little bit more of a problem or are depressed. He will go to them and rub on them- single them out as the one he thinks needs him the most. ”
The Children's Advocacy Center is under the umbrella of Mid Florida Community Services. It provides comprehensive services designed to reduce the stress a child experiences through the investigative process. Among the services provided at the CAC are forensic interviews, forensic medical exams, advocacy, deposition and court accompaniment, case management and individual therapy for child victims. The CAC has been open for eleven years and serves children from birth to age eighteen.
Janine Kell, director of the CAC states, “Our primary goal is to reduce the trauma experienced by child abuse victims. This can include physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect or children who witness domestic violence. We also work with siblings of children who have died and children who have been exposed to illegal substances in the home.”
The Children's Advocacy Center sees an average of 125 children a week for therapy. Overall, last year it served more than 600 children here in Hernando County. Overall, in 2017 CAC served nearly 800 children and families who were victims of violent crimes, in 2018, they saw nearly 900 and in 2019 they expect even more.
The CAC will put the grant money to good use. It will be used for various needs, such as hotel rooms for a human trafficking victims, therapy services or food for a child who comes to the center hungry.
You can view the public service announcement on YouTube at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVpGsy-IpjU&feature=youtu.be
The Children's Advocacy Center is located in Brooksville at 711 Benton Avenue. For more information on the CAC call 352-754-8809 or go to www.mfcs.us.com