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Child Advocacy Center Has New Home, Old Problem

FULTON – The Child Advocacy Center of Oswego County has a new home to help deal with an old problem.

Located at 163 S. First St. in Fulton, with a satellite office at 4822 Salina St. in Pulaski, the CAC of Oswego County is a non-profit charitable organization that works hand-in-hand with local law enforcement, prosecution, child protective services, medical providers, therapy providers, and victim advocacy professionals in Oswego County to protect and serve children that are victims of sexual and physical abuse.

The CAC moved from its old site to the Oswego Falls Business Center of South First Street in Fulton last November, said executive director Karrie Damm. The new location has more than three times the space and is more comfortable for the young victims, she added.

“We moved on November 13 (2017) and before we even finished packing up the former place, we had five forensic interviews on the first day!!” Damm said. “We are mostly up and running, but we are waiting for some grant funding to come in so we can set up new modern equipment and a Cyber Crime Lab that will help us to catch online predators for people who Commerically Sexually Exploit Children.”

They have completed phase one of renovations and are going to be embarking on phase two very shortly.

“We need expanded services in our Pulaski satellite site, also. Therefore, we need people to attend and sponsor our annual chicken wing fest so that we can continue to provide the much-needed services in this community,” Damm said.

The seventh annual Chicken Wing Fest will be held February 9 from 6 – 10 p.m. at the Lake Ontario Conference Center, 26 E. First St., Oswego.

The Child Advocacy Center provides – Forensic Interviews, Medical Exams, Victim Advocacy and Mental Health Services.

Center Stats:

2014 – 465 children served
2015 – 456
2016 – 497
2017 – 526!

“And, in 2017, 383 of those 526 were younger than 12 years old!” Damm said

But don’t let those numbers fool you, she noted.

“It’s not that child abuse happens more in Oswego County than any other place; because perversion has no economic or geographical bounds,” she told Oswego County Today. “It’s just that our community is more ready and able to manage the disclosures, like through our MultiDisciplinary Team and the CAC.”

“This community has done a good job educating adults, through the Darkness to Light initiative, for example, of how to talk to kids and spot inappropriate activity and thus, intervene to stop it. By doing this, more kids are willing and able to come forth to tell their stories,” she continued.

Comprised of a cross-section of law enforcement investigators, child protective services, medical providers, therapeutic professionals, victim support professionals, the district attorney’s office, and other human services agencies, the CAC’s Multi-Disciplinary Team maintains a well-coordinated, effective approach to child abuse investigation and prosecution, and service provision to families and individuals affected by child abuse.

Each member of the team adheres to the National Children’s Alliance Standards and through collaboration, pursues case outcomes that meet the best interest of the child victim and their families.

Team members share pertinent information regarding the cases and by following the CAC’s system for monitoring cases, take necessary steps to protect children, strengthen families, and intervene as early as possible to properly investigate and prosecute child physical and sexual abuse cases in Oswego County and provide abused children and their families with proper protection and treatment.

The MDT can take care of business in one location. Previously, victims had to tell their stories at a police station and several other places, Damm said.

“We bring agencies and services together in one child-friendly setting that is non-threatening and physically and psychologically safe for children of all ages,” she explained. “In doing so, the intent is to minimize unnecessary interviews of children and the discomfort and embarrassment that talk about abuse can cause. This new center was built to accommodate the professionals and their ever-changing demands of the job. We hope that this is a healing place that meets those demands for the professionals involved in catching and prosecuting the predators, and for the professionals, families and children who are involved in the long healing process.”

“Our numbers keep going up. But, we’ll be here until they go back down again to zero because we have addressed and stopped child abuse altogether! Our new home ensures that we have a permanent headquarters to be here for however long it takes to do that,” Damm said.

The center will host an open house during Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month in April and the community will be invited, the director said.

For more information: (315) 592-4453.