Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County looks to expand services for children, families

·3 min read

Jun. 10—The Aiken Kiwanis Club had a guest speaker where they learned more about child advocacy.

On Thursday, June 9, Logan Ford, office manager at the Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County, spoke at the local Kiwanis meeting.

Ford described the Child Advocacy Center as a "small but mighty" team of four staff members and many volunteers. They take in children from ages 3 through 18, although there are sometimes special cases.

He began his talk by explaining the process a child goes through when they are referred to the facility.

They begin with a forensic interview that is conducted by individuals who have been trained to conduct a child-led interview. The whole goal of this step is to figure out if physical or sexual abuse happened, if police need to be further involved, and the next steps to take for the child.

The center wants to create an environment in which the child feels like it is "safe and they can be free to share their trauma story," said Ford.

The next step for the child is a medical exam. These exams are done through the Prisma Health Children's Hospital. Ford said that this step is not only to check on the child but also reassure them that "their body is OK" and a safe thing to be in.

The third and last major step in the process is therapy. Ford explained that it takes a team of people to decide what the best approach to therapy is for the child.

Often there are discussions between nurses, parents, school counselors and more to make the choice on how to approach. All therapy provided by the center is done in-house at its location on Trolley Line Road in Aiken.

Ford then went on to give the group some statistics.

He said the Child Advocacy Center sees over 500 children a year in the Aiken area alone. This was followed by the fact that only about 15% of children disclose abuse. There is a total of 28 child advocacy centers in South Carolina who have served around 45,000 individuals, per the South Carolina Network of Children's Advocacy Centers.

A recent initiative of the organization is "make it your business," as many children can be helped just by someone being their advocate and speaking up when they see something wrong; along with that, individuals should try to stay informed and learn the signs of potential child abuse in order to report it.

Now the question was raised, how can you help?

There are many ways to get involved. For parents, there are courses in which Ford said they "train parents on how to be better," which could especially be useful for first-time parents or those who may struggle with certain aspects of parenthood.

The center is always looking for volunteers at any skill level. Residents can go to cacofaiken.org or email lford@cacofaiken.org for further information on volunteering.

The center also takes many donations for things such as food, toys and clothes for those who may be struggling after being removed from an abusive situation.

The center is currently trying to grow, get more staff and is working toward becoming a 24-hour sexual assault facility.

The Kiwanis Club of Aiken was happy to hear about how they were able to help and were eager to learn more of the prospects from Ford as the Kiwanis Club's goal is "serving the children of the world."

Learn more about the Child Advocacy Center of Aiken at cacofaiken.org or 803-644-5100.