Child advocacy center celebrates new building

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA)– After decades of waiting, one center dedicated to helping children who have been abused is celebrating its new location.

The Sangamon County Child Advocacy Center cut the ribbon for its new facility Thursday.

When Betsy Goulet and others wanted to bring child advocacy centers to Central Illinois 30 years ago, they settled in a building on East Monroe street in Springfield.

“We were one of the first 40 in the country when we opened in 1989,” said Goulet. “We were sharing space with the crisis nursery, both programs needed more space so we had a building that was temporary and we’d hope to stay there a couple of years and 30 years later, here we are.”

Though they were grateful for the location, they envisioned a venue more suitable for their mission of helping children recover from unthinkable circumstances.

“You don’t want to re-traumatize child victims or their non-offending family members who are apart of this process, bring them into a facility to meet people they have never met before that are here to help them but they’ve just experienced one of perhaps the most traumatic things they will ever have to encounter in their lives. So the focus on the design of this facility was to further that approach to make it as welcoming as possible,” said Sangamon County State’s Attorney Dan Wright.

After the decades long wait leaders said this time around, their building was set up with the comfort of the child in mind for every room, looking to give them hope for during their darkest times.

“A space when children who are going through traumatic events that things are more positive, not so dark and dingy with regular colors or just white. It’s not so institutional. It’s more playful and bright and cheery,” said Sangamon County CASA program director Jenn Dowd. Dowd helped coordinate the color scheme in the rooms for the children.

The advocacy center and CASA staff moved into the building this summer but Thursday was their official celebration.

Though the center and CASA have different missions, they both are both designed to help children after abuse. CASA is still looking for volunteers to advocate for children. They invite you to drop by and fill out an application or call 217-522-2241 for more information.

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