SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – The number of reports of abused children is increasing in Spartanburg, Cherokee and Union Counties.
Due to the increase, there are some children on the waitlist for the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) in Spartanburg. So, the center is taking steps to ensure more children are getting help.
“Our mission is to heal and give voice to children that have been abused through assessment treatment, education, and community partnerships,” said Executive Director Elizabeth Tisdale.
This CAC receives referrals from Department of Social Services, medical professionals or law enforcement.
“If we can gather the preliminary information, the child’s name, date of birth, where they live, the basics, if you will, we’re not going to begin probative questions or any type of interrogation with that child,” said Captain Tim Metz, with the Spartanburg Police Department.
Once referred, children come to the center, located on Washington Place, to begin the healing process in a child friendly environment.
“They come here to tell their stories,” said Tisdale. “They do trauma-focused therapy, we do cognitive behavioral therapy.”
Tisdale, said this facility has helped over 750 children just this year.
“We currently have 134 in therapy, and we have 42 that have been assigned to a therapist, but then 47 that have not been assigned a therapist that are on the waitlist to receive services,” she said.
She said the number of reports, and children needing services, keeps going up.
“We’re doing a better job at educating people about child abuse and neglect, and more people are aware,” she said.
“Our schools are training their coaches and their counselors and their nurses, and all the different folks to recognize some of the signs,” said Metz.
They plan to expand one of their buildings to help meet the need.
“We hope to be adding 8 therapy rooms down there that would help us be able to meet the need of our current level,” said Tisdale.
Metz said if they have an abuse case involving someone 18 or under, they refer them to the center.
“If it raises to probable cause then we will make the rightful charge on the criminal side. Then, we will also involve the solicitor’s office,” he said.
Through this partnership, Metz said they are trying to ensure every child has a safe and productive childhood.
“We’re working on their behalf and they’re not in trouble, and we’re here to help them and these are the good guys,” he said.
All of these services are provided for free and, according to Tisdale, the organization gets their funding through donations, insurances and sometimes by federal funding.