Haley Zelenka, a passionate legal professional practicing as a healthcare attorney in Gulfport, breaks down what child advocacy is and why it’s vital.
What is child advocacy?
Child advocacy is the act of promoting and protecting the rights and welfare of children. It can take many forms, including:
- Promoting children’s rights in the community
- Working to ensure that children are healthy and safe
- Protecting a child from abuse or neglect
According to the Child Advocacy Center of Lapeer County, a former congressman, Robert Cramer, is credited with the idea of Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) in the USA.
His method brought together several groups, such as law enforcement agents, medical and mental health workers, child protective centers, and criminal justice. As one group, they’re in charge of creating CACs.
What’s the number of Child Advocacy Centers today?
In 1998, CACs pooled their resources and formed the National Children’s Alliance (NCA). This body is responsible for over 800 CACs in the USA today, according to the Chief Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Department (OJJDP).
OJJDP says that CACs “coordinate the investigation, treatment, and prosecution of child abuse cases.”
Why are CACs important?
In 2020, nearly “618,000 children in the United States experienced abuse and neglect, and 1,750 died as a result.” The report says such children suffer from depression and substance abuse. They can also get involved in crime and even drop out of school.
So CACs can help abused or neglected children “receive timely, trauma-informed services.”-OJJDP.
Haley Zelenka says advocacy centers are often the first stop for children who have been abused or neglected. They offer a safe and supportive environment where children can receive medical care, counseling, and other services.
- CACs empower children and families. They provide comprehensive services for children, including prevention, intervention, and education.
- They offer medical care, counseling, and other services to help address the needs of children who have been abused or neglected.
- They provide a safe place to go with trained professionals ready to help kids.
- They provide resources such as referrals to legal assistance, mental health treatment programs, shelters, schools, and more services that all members of the child’s family can access.
- Advocates work with law enforcement officers to investigate cases of abuse or neglect and ensure that perpetrators are held accountable in court.
- Advocacy centers work closely with teachers, school administrators, and other professionals to identify at-risk young people before they enter the justice system or experience abuse or neglect.
Child advocacy is essential for abused and neglected kids because it helps them get the care and treatment they need. Groups for child advocacy help provide services for these children and their families while also working to prevent abuse from happening in the future.
About Haley Zelenka
Haley Zelenka is passionate about defending the general public’s rights and children. Zelenka, who once worked as an attorney for an adoption agency, keeps in touch with many families and kids she has met throughout her career.