Sue Lewis came forward to introduce today’s speaker, Kelly Castleberry, but before she did she thanked members for their past support of the Child Advocacy Center and announced that they have achieved full accreditation through the National Children’s Alliance – all within 2 years in operation!

Kelly, she said, is the newest addition to the CAC and is a Victim’s Advocate (Kelly prefers to use the title Family Advocate). She is a native of Adrian and the daughter of Terry Collins. She entered the military following high school where she traveled the world and returned to work for Mary Murray at Bigby Coffee. She was involved in human trafficking work and from there went to the Child Advocacy Center.

She provides services to children who have been abused physically and sexually, she said. It is a multi-disciplinary team effort involving law enforcement officers, Child Protective Services and other key players. Assessment interviews are held with victims as well as the parents to understand exactly what happened.

The center, she said, had started to set up a Needs Closet to provide basic items should people need them. Following the interviews with the children, they are given a snack and a blanket since the interviews can be quite emotional and tiring. Debriefing by staff occurs after every interview, Kelly said.
Children, she said, are screened for special needs. Kelly said she gives victims her personal cell number so they can stay in touch. The center also is involved in all aspects of placement in coordination with CPS for such things as therapy and with foster homes in the county. In the event children as victims are required to appear in court, Kelly said she will go with them which does not happen very often.

The CAC, she said, builds resiliency in children to help with the on-going effects of the trauma they experienced all in an effort to reduce the chance they will engage in juvenile crimes later on and decreasing school dropout rates. On a typical day, she said, the center will see 3-4 children a day Monday through Thursday, There are days they will not see anyone. In 2019 alone, the center saw over 200 children!