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Healing the Wounds Of Abused Children For Over 20 Years

By Pamela Sosnowski

Since the Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) of Colin County opened its doors in 1992, it has helped over 50,000 abused and neglected children heal from physical and emotional wounds. The CAC may not exist if not for founder Robert E. "Bud" Cramer, Jr., an Alabama district attorney and Congressman who saw first-hand that the justice system was not doing enough to protect abused children at the time. His vision of a child friendly environment led to the launch of more than 700 Children's Advocacy Centers across the country, including 64 in Texas.

"Child abuse and neglect are social problems that impact every race, religious community, socioeconomic demographic and community in the country," says Katy Seitzler, the Center's Community Relations Manager. "Our mission is to provide safety, healing and justice to children victimized by abuse or neglect in Collin County."

The Center accomplishes this in four ways: conducting forensic interviews with children, providing therapy to victims and their non-offending family members, providing family advocacy, and working with community resources to make sure a family's basic needs are met. "Our therapy services are available for as long as children need help at no charge," says Seitzer.

The Center has two locations; one in Plano and the other in McKinney. Each were designed to provide all available services under one roof, to help minimize any further stress to an abused child. All services are provided free of charge for as long as a family needs the support.

Less than 12 percent of the Center's funding comes from government sources. To help raise funds for its services, the Center sponsors several annual events to drive donations and nurture its relationship with the local community. One of these is its annual black-tie gala featuring live music and a car raffle.

For another event called the Teddy Bear Ride, thousands of bikers adorn their rides with teddy bears and drive through North Texas to raise awareness of child abuse and the Center's cause.

"We could not accomplish our mission without the support of the Collin County community," says Seitzler. "From event sponsorships to holiday giving to collecting supplies for the Rainbow Room, every donation makes a difference in the lives of abused and neglected children."

Sadly, although child abuse continues to be a major problem in the U.S., organizations such as the Children's Advocacy Center are determined to alleviate the pain. "As the Collin County population continues to grow, so does the need for our services," states Seitzler. "The challenge to us is to be prepared for the growth of our community and the ever-growing needs of the children we serve."

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