After 18 years aiding children in Alameda County, CALICO is expanding its scope to assist children across all of California. CALICO has added a new service, taking on the program of the Children’s Advocacy Centers of California (CACC). This latest expansion reflects CALICO’s steadfast commitment to the safety and well-being of all children. CACC’s mission is to promote the growth and development of centers like CALICO, so that no matter where in California a child who has been hurt lives, he or she will have access to the best services to put him or her on the path to justice and healing. This past year, as CACC was searching for a permanent and stable home to advance that mission, they recognized CALICO as the place to do this. As CALICO’s Executive Director, Vicky Gwiasda noted, “When CACC chose CALICO to implement its work, it was a vote of confidence for CALICO’s services, infrastructure and stability. We are humbled and grateful for the opportunity to be able to add to this important work at the state level.”
Imagine how scary it must be for a child who has told someone they have been abused and, all of a sudden, a police officer, child welfare worker, hospital staff, and maybe others are trying to understand what happened. Now imagine how much scarier it would be for the child if he or she lives in a county where there is no child advocacy center – the professionals may not have specialized training to talk to him or her in a developmentally appropriate way, there may be no one available to explain the investigation to the child’s parents, and there may be no support staff designated to ensure the family’s needs are being met. Child advocacy centers (CACs) like CALICO work to ensure the investigative process is friendly to and understood by children and their caretakers. Many places in California have fantastic CACs, some are working hard to develop them, and others are in their infancy. CALICO wants to make sure that all of the professionals in California tasked with responding to abuse have the tools to do so in the best manner possible. Realizing this goal will take a lot of hard work and a significant amount of time; by adopting the CACC program, CALICO is committed to making this happen. CALICO will begin this task by providing training and technical assistance to multi-disciplinary teams and CACs across the state, hosting networking and collaboration meetings, undertaking legislative advocacy, and administering grants to support and grow the CAC movement in California.
CALICO’s staff is enthusiastic about the opportunity to bring their skills, energy and dedication to the state as a whole. “It’s a privilege to take on this work and to begin the task of making an impact on the lives of children across the state. CALICO provides a great foundation for this work as it has always had a clear vision for and commitment to the well-being of children and families who have experienced trauma,” said the new State Coordinator, Erin Harper. CALICO has always believed that a child and family that experiences trauma should have the same quality of services regardless of where in the county they live. Now, CALICO will bring that philosophy further afield, working to realize the goal that all children in California, from Crescent City to San Diego and everywhere in between, have access to a child advocacy center.