Six hundred fifty interviews, 650 reasons.
In 2015, the Madison County Child Advocacy Center interviewed 650 children involved in an allegation of abuse. The center coordinates a multidisciplinary team that consists of professionals from the center, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, local law enforcement, the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office, and professionals from the medical and mental health fields to provide professional intervention and support services to fight child abuse.
Every year, an estimated 3,500 children in Madison County are alleged to have been abused. While this is a staggering statistic, there is hope. The center is a resource for children who are brave enough to disclose abuse. Through a recorded forensic interview, children are able to share their story one time, in a safe and supportive environment.
The center has experienced a 28 percent increase in the number of interviews conducted since 2014, and it only seems to be rising.
“In 2016, we’ve experienced 5 record months in the number of interviews conducted of children involved in abuse allegations,” said Carrie Cohan, executive director of the center.
The center holds events throughout the year to help the community learn more about its services and to raise funds for the organization. The Harvest of Hope benefit event will be Friday, Oct. 21, at the Leclaire Room on the Lewis and Clark N.O. Nelson Campus in Edwardsville. This event focuses on raising money to provide hope and healing to children and their families.
“Harvest of Hope is a dinner auction-style event that features several ways patrons can support the center,” Cohan said. “It is a time for us to reflect on the work that the center has done the past year, celebrate those who have supported us, and raise funds for the coming year so that we’re able to continue serving children.”
While the main focus of Harvest of Hope is to raise funds for the organization, it also honors a group or individuals with the Harvest of Hope Award. Award recipients embody the center’s mission and are an example of hope in action. With their outstanding involvement in the community and at the Center, the choice to honor Barry and Gaye Julian with the 2016 Harvest of Hope Award was an easy one.
“The Julians are incredibly invested in our community and choose to give back in many ways to make it a better place to live and thrive for everyone,” Cohan said. “They have been supportive of all of the center’s initiatives. From providing snacks for children who are here for an interview to supporting our many fundraising and community awareness events, their generosity is astounding.”
There are still opportunities available for sponsorship of Harvest of Hope.
“Sponsoring this event means you are a champion for abused children in our community,” Development Specialist Claire Cooper said. “We have some wonderful agencies involved in the event already, such as Widman Construction Inc. of Godfrey, and the Simmons Employee Foundation. No child or family is ever charged a fee for coming to the center, and to make sure that we are able to provide services for the record number of children interviewed, we’re reaching out to our community for support.”