Founded in 1997, CALICO achieves justice and healing for over 600 toddlers, children, adolescents, and adults with developmental disabilities each year. Children and adults come to CALICO as a result of sexual abuse and exploitation, physical harm, neglect, drug endangerment, or severe violence they have witnessed in their home or community. For these individuals, CALICO is often their first opportunity to tell in full what happened and their first step to recovery.
CALICO improves the quality of life of young victims and families in several ways:
We stop the immediate violence for the child interviewed and other children to whom the abuser has access
By coordinating the response of various agencies, we reduce further trauma to the child that would result from being part of multiple investigations; and
By connecting abused children with therapeutic support, we help a child onto a path of healthy adulthood.
While the discussions that take place at CALICO concern difficult situations, the atmosphere is one of hope. Children walk away with a book, stuffed animal and blanket, feeling safe and protected. Caregivers leave equipped with tools to guide the whole family towards healing. By checking in after the interview and through follow-up conversations, we can report the following:
Over 75% of children report a positive or neutral experience answering the interviewer's questions
Almost 90% of children report they feel positive or neutral about the interviewing room
Over half of families report that their child enrolled in counseling within approximately six weeks following their visit to CALICO
Close to 90% of caregivers feel their experience at CALICO is positive
CALICO is the only children's advocacy center in the county. If CALICO did not exist, abuse victims would be forced to tell their accounts of abuse in uncomfortable and unsuitable environments. They would have to answer more questions asked by people not trained to talk to children and victims with special needs. As a result, evidence would be lost, many offenders would not be prosecuted, and families would lose a key opportunity to connect with the services they need to heal.
My wholehearted support for CALICO only grows, as I am thankful for their great work in reducing/eliminating any further trauma to abused children. CALICO is part of a team that puts kids first, with protection and stability as the primary mission.
—Nancy E. O'Malley, District Attorney
Alameda County District Attorney's Office