Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

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CAC Recognition

Kevin Davis, Rebecca Miller and Randy Leite received recognition awards for their contributions to the Athens Child Advocacy Center

Photographer: James Conkle

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CHSP recognized for role in CAC financial recovery

Child Advocacy Center now poised to help more children recover from trauma

On Nov. 6, the Athens County Child Advocacy Center board recognized College of Health Sciences and Professions Dean Randy Leite, outgoing director Rebecca Miller and outgoing board member Kevin Davis. The three were honored for helping the CAC avoid a near financial and programmatic collapse a few years ago. 

In 2013, the CAC, whose mission is to help children recover from the trauma of sexual assault, was facing desperate times. Fearing they would have to shut their doors, a move which would have negatively impacted many traumatized children in southeastern Ohio, board members struggled to find a solution. Board member Sheila Shafer recalled the era’s difficult board meetings.

“Three years ago we were making payroll at the CAC, but we were on our last leg. At board meetings, each member would pick a CAC bill to pay out of their own pocket," she said.

In 2012, Davis, who was then employed by Ohio University, approached Leite about the CAC’s struggles. Leite was interested in helping and the two eventually brainstormed a creative solution involving another colleague, Rebecca Miller.

Miller, who had previously served for 10 years as the executive director of the CASA/GAL program, was perfectly suited to meet the needs of both the college and the CAC. The partnership agreement allowed Miller to split her time between the two entities, handling teaching and outreach for the college as well as serving as a part-time director for the CAC.   

Under Miller’s leadership, the CAC’s grant funding increased from $30,000 to $150,000, leading not only to stability, but also growth. The center hired Dr. Jane Broecker as medical director in 2013 and is currently searching for an executive director. The new executive director will be the first full-time director in the CAC’s history.  

The organization is also now serving more children. From October 2014-October 2015, 101 children were served, an increase of more than 40 children over the prior year.  

Of all the improvements at the CAC, however, Miller feels reinstating medical services has been the most important due to the vital role they play in recovery for traumatized children.

“Children no longer have to travel to Columbus to receive medical exams,” Miller said. “It also means children only need to disclose their assault or abuse once, in a child-friendly environment. Without the CAC, children must disclose multiple times to multiple agencies, which does not promote healing. At the CAC, interviews and medical exams are done during the same visit. This helps children heal and it helps the investigation.” 

The CAC has also hired two full-time advocates and implemented human trafficking awareness initiatives. These initiatives led to the establishment of the Athens Area Human Trafficking Coalition, which has received attention from the state for the progressive work being done.

Miller, however, gives CHSP the credit for the agency’s transformation.

“The CAC struggled for years and is now a vibrant and prospering local non-profit due to the college’s support,” she said.  

With the agency financially stable, Miller will now assume a full-time position as director of college-community partnerships with the College of Health Sciences and Professions, staying involved with the CAC as a board member beginning in February.

For more information about the CAC visit their website at www.athenscac.org.