NORWICH — The Chenango County Child Advocacy Center (CAC) located at 8 Silver Street, Norwich is working to raise awareness of child abuse and child abuse prevention throughout the month of April in recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month.
During the month of April, the CAC will be holding their annual Shine Blue for Hope Campaign to help raise money for their programs, while also reminding the community of child abuse awareness and resources available in the Chenango County area.
CAC focuses on a supportive healing process for victims of child abuse and family members by providing a safe, friendly setting for interviews along with coordinating and sharing case information between investigative partners, which reduces the number of times a child tells the story to different people.
“We don't talk about this stuff often, so April is our opportunity to be able to say, look, here we are. We provide this incredible, valuable service for the community,” said Program Coordinator Joanne Smith. “April is also a way to do it in a positive manner ... It’s like, all right, so we know this is a tough issue to talk about, let’s find ways to come together as a community and support those who have been impacted by a crime in our community.
Norwich has blue pinwheels in place around the city as the CAC Pinwheels for Prevention Campaign is in full swing. The pinwheels are an additional way for CAC to bring awareness to the community and looks to expand in other areas.
Local businesses or organizations wishing to participate in Pinwheels for Prevention Campaign can contact Joanne Smith at 607-334-5437.
You can also show your support by wearing a “Blue Ribbon” throughout the month of April, researching information on Child Abuse issues and sharing with family, friends, and coworkers. Also, by eating at local restaurants that are “Giving Back” to the Child Advocacy Center.
Local restaurants donating proceeds to Chenango Child Advocacy Center are: The Stadium in Oxford, Nina's, Wild Owl in Norwich, Kozmo's Eatery, and Gilligan's Ice Cream Flavor in Sherburne.
Smith previously said, “We have found there are a lot of children who go through our program, and then they go through the criminal justice system and they still have to have visitations, oftentimes with the individual that has harmed them."
“We don’t have any control over those decisions, but what we can do for children is provide them with stress management tools and some fun things to help them lower their anxiety if they’re having these visitation meetings," she added.
The CAC works with local offices such as the Norwich Police Department, the Chenango County Sheriff's Office, DSS, Child Protective Services (CPS), and the Children's Home of Wyoming, who connect them with children and families impacted by a crime.
CAC also provides resources for children and families working through the criminal justice process such as case management, basic needs assistance, and counseling services. In partnership with DSS, the CAC also has the Safe Harbour Program which focuses on children and teens at risk of being trafficked in Chenango County.
In 2022, the CAC served 175 children, supported 141 caregivers, helped 57 at-risk youth of being trafficked and provided primary prevention programming to 847 middle and high school students.
The Chenango County Child Advocacy Center (CAC) was established in 2010 under the Chenango County Catholic Charities Organization. In October 2016, the CAC transitioned under the Crime Victims Assistance Program of Broome County (CVAC) who has been providing services for child and adult victims of crime since 1997.
More information on the Chenango County Child Advocacy Center, available resources, and upcoming events can be found on their website, chenangochildadvocacy.us, on the Chenango County Child Advocacy Center Facebook page or call 607-334-5437.