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Child Advocacy Center sees rise in new children served

ELKINS — The West Virginia Child Advocacy Network has released its statewide data for the 2020 fiscal year, showing an increase in new children served both locally and around the state.

To ensure that every child had access to needed resources and support, West Virginia’s 21 Child Advocacy Centers have remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this past fiscal year, CACs in West Virginia served 4,604 children — a 40% increase in new children served in the last five years. Locally, the Randolph Tucker CAC saw 121 new children.

A CAC provides a safe, child-friendly facility where child protection, criminal justice, and child treatment professionals work together to investigate abuse, hold offenders accountable and help children heal, according to a press release.

The Randolph Tucker CAC report states that 61% of the children served were there because of allegations of sexual abuse.

It also states that 30% of the children served by Randolph Tucker CAC were 6 years old or younger.

According to the report, 94% of the alleged offenders were someone the child knew.

Of the children served, 25% of them received a medical referral, and 46 received a referral for counseling.

Statewide, 202 individuals were convicted for crimes against children, the report states.

The data in the report reflects service from West Virginia’s 21 Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) which provided official service to 44 of 55 counties in the state.

The report includes data on victim demographics, alleged offender demographics, reported vs. disclosed abuse, services performed, criminal justice response, and CAC income budget breakdown.

Rather than having a child taken from agency to agency to endure multiple interviews, the CAC model coordinated the response around the child for an effective, child-centered, healing process. As the statewide authority on multidisciplinary approaches to supporting child victims of abuse, WVCAN’s purpose is to empower local communities to provide comprehensive, coordinated and compassionate services to victims of child abuse.

If you know of a child that needs help, the Randolph Tucker CAC can be reached at 304-630-2214. If you know of or suspect abuse, call the WV Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-352-6513.

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