Children’s Advocacy Center holds Child Abuse Awareness Ceremony

Published 8:30 am Friday, April 7, 2023

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On Thursday, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Troup County (CAC), a program of Twin Cedars Youth & Family Services, held its annual Child Abuse Awareness Ceremony.

The ceremony celebrates the many community-based partnerships in which local leaders reinforce the message of raising awareness and empowering the community to play an active role in protecting children.

Sheri Cody, executive director of Twin Cedars, said the annual ceremony is an acknowledgment of child abuse and also a thank you to the professionals who work hard to help children.

“The month of April is a time we use to bring awareness to child abuse, proclaim our intention to prevent it and remember the children who have been hurt here,” Cody said. “It is also an opportunity to celebrate and thank our frontline staff in all disciplines of the multidisciplinary team (MDT) for their dedication.”

“Lastly, it’s a time for us to reaffirm our commitment to the protocol we all follow to make sure that any child who is abused in our community receives care and justice using a best practice standard with a coordinated approach that works.”

The Troup County Child Abuse Protocol is a binding document that is resigned and endorsed each April by key child welfare agency heads, departmental heads, judges, prosecutors and other key child welfare stakeholders.

“The protocol is not just an interagency agreement to ensure coordination and cooperation between all agencies involved in child abuse investigations. It’s so much more than fulfilling a statutory mandate — it’s the framework for a practice model built upon the highest gold star, evidence-based best practices available in child welfare today,” said Kim Adams, chair of the Troup County Child Abuse Protocol.

Guest speakers of the ceremony were Jep Bendinger, chief assistant district attorney of the Coweta Judicial District and Sandra Heath Taylor, solicitor general.

Upon being asked to give a few words, Bendinger said he felt honored to be at the ceremony.

“I think this reflects some of the most important work law enforcement does, which is looking after the most vulnerable among us, our children,” Bendinger said. “Anytime we can take to have a moment and reflect on that and recommit ourselves to it I think it’s great.”

Taylor said she felt honored and excited to be attending the ceremony.

“It’s great to see the community’s involvement and support of victims of crime, child victims of crime, in particular. It’s very traumatic for children anytime they’re involved in a crime, whether they witnessed it, or are the literal physical victim of it, it still has a lasting impact,” Taylor said. “It’s of the utmost importance that we protect children who are involved in crime situations, and I’m glad to have Twin Cedars’ involvement in that. We’re so fortunate to have the child advocacy center here to interview in a child-friendly way for children who were victims of crimes.”

Since 1998, Cody said the protocol has been a working document that has been continually updated for the best practices and new evidence-based approaches on child welfare.

“Our goal is to continue to have this protocol and that every year we work to make it better and determine whether there’s anything that needs to be added or revised to make sure that children get the justice and healing they deserve,” Cody said.