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San Angelo Lifestyles

Children's Advocacy Center

Written by Dee Lackey
Photos courtesy of Justin M. Deloach of the Children's Advocacy Center

Beacon of Help and Hope




By The End of this week, more than 1,225 children in Texas will suffer from abuse and neglect. 
Working diligently to bring those numbers down to zero is the Children’s Advocacy Center of Greater West Texas.

On hand during a blustery, cold, February dedication day were First Lady of Texas Cecilia Abbott, Rep. Drew Darby, Sen. Charles Perry, San Angelo Mayor Brenda Gunter, participating philanthropists and CAC board members and staff. Many generous donors and service providers were essential in making this project a reality. 

First Lady Abbott acknowledged all of the CAC partners, “When we work together to put children first, we see amazing things happen. This new campus is a living example of CAC’s ongoing commitment to ensure every child has the opportunity to live a life worthy of their promise and potential.”

Established in 1991, CAC’s mission—to ensure every child has a safe and nurturing home—has always been at the forefront. Located at 3418 Town & Country Drive in San Angelo, the recently expanded facilities include the remodeled Town & Country Plaza and the newly constructed Hope House LeGrand Family facility were 34 staff members and affiliated personnel work 24/7. 
“Originally located on the city’s east side and in various other locales, this latest expansion allows for all services of the CAC, including Hope House, Court Appointed Special Advocates, Family Enrichment Services and Outreach & Awareness, to be situated next to each other on one campus,” explained Chief Development Officer, Justin DeLoach, who gave this writer a guided tour.



First impressions were warm and welcoming. The colorful and home-like use of space featured privacy where needed, and a very high tech, yet not overwhelming, atmosphere for an at-risk child or frightened parent. In keeping with CAC’s goals, children are not expected to tell their stories multiple times, thus causing additional trauma, since all coordinating agencies and personnel are linked technically and physically.

There is a wide array of services available to the 13 counties in the Concho Valley region: Coke, Concho, Crockett, Irion, Kimble, McCulloch, Menard, Reagan, Runnels, Schleicher, Sterling, Sutton & Tom Green. Each focus on their own specific aspect of the advocacy process. 

HOPE HOUSE is an intermediary between the abused child and the investigation process. A multidisciplinary team collects information in a neutral process and then offers support to the child and non-offending caregiver. This team may include advocates, law enforcement, medical personnel such as a sexual abuse nurse examiner, Child Protective investigators, district attorneys and therapists.

COURT APPOINTED SPECIAL ADVOCATES (CASA) work in the courts for the child’s best interests during their time in the welfare system. Their ultimate goal is to provide each child with a safe, permanent and nurturing home.

FAMILY ENRICHMENT SERVICES provide techniques to build stronger families in Tom Green, Concho and Runnels counties via counseling, mentoring and teaching programs.

OUTREACH & AWARENESS offers free trainings, volunteer opportunities and coalitions to educate and engage the community in child abuse prevention efforts. It indeed takes a village to ensure the nurturing and safety of all our children.



In its three decades of operation, the CAC has experienced a large growth in the need for services, especially in the past 10 years where statistics show a 150% increase. Since 2015 the total number of individual services has risen from 1,528 to 6,043. Of that number 4,451 were served at Hope House and 380 were impacted by CASA.

Like many non-profit organizations, CAC has visions to build upon their existing endowment, hire additional staff and hopefully add more features for children including a therapy garden and playground. CAC annually hosts two fundraisers: a Champagne & Diamonds gala on Valentine’s Day and a Champions Advocating 4 Children Golf Classic, in partnership with Tres Amigos convenience stores.

Leading the chain of generous donors for the $10.1 million campus expansion was Steve & Pollyanna Stevens, Devin & Liz Bates, Randy & Susan Brooks, Alvin & Shelley New and Lloyd & Sheri Norris. CAC’s new Hope House LeGrand Family facility was underwritten by Dr. Robert & Jean Ann LeGrand and the James B. & Lois R. Archer Charitable Foundation. Additional supporters to the Town & Country Plaza were Cari & Jeff Curry, Sheila & Jorge Velarde, Trudy & Mike Hennings, Jessica & James Skinner and the Junior League of San Angelo.



More support for Hope House was received from the San Angelo Health Foundation, M.S. Doss Foundation, J.E. & L.E. Mabee Foundation, Wisniewski Family, Mary Ellen Kent Bunyard Foundation and Stickney Grandchildren. Several anonymous donors also participated in both projects. Serving as architects was Citizens HKS of Fort Worth, who donated a portion of their services. Lee Lewis Construction was the general contractor.

Creating healthy families and ensuring CAC’s sustainability are continuing goals. With their increasing service needs and recent expansions, there’s limitless possibilities for this organization. San Angelo and Greater West Texas families will be better served thanks to visionary individuals who believed in the safety and well-being of all children today, and tomorrow. †

 


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