On October 13, 2016, the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) celebrated 12 years of serving victims and their families at our “Be a Hero for Children” Gala. The Gala is our main fund raising event and directly supports the mission of the CAC – reducing the trauma experienced by innocent child victims of physical, sexual or emotional abuse. The CAC served and interviewed 387 children in 2015, is on track to serve 440 children and their families this year and is committed to increasing this number in 2017, but only with the support of people, agencies, businesses and foundations like what we received at this Gala event. The Gala also gave us the opportunity to thank and recognize a few of the many people that are committed to helping us lessen the trauma and provide some help and hope for these children.
Where and What – The event was held just outside of the CAC on the grounds of the Masonic Home. Sparkling lights overhead, relaxing music by Them Kool Kats, beer tasting donated by Bread and Barley, and delicious food from Oasis Grill Restaurant and Cafe created a wonderful atmosphere for the 250 guests who attended. Dessert and coffee were generously donated by Whole Foods, Batch Brownies and the Last Drop Café. Dinner guests were entertained with Salsa and Tango dance demonstrations by Barbara Salas and Alexis White and Luis Ruiz and Haruna Suzuki.
News, Recognition and Thank You – We announced a new partnership with Masonic Center for Youth and Families to provide on-site mental health services to further reduce trauma for children and their families. Taylor & Ring, Maryam Fatemi, Pet Prescription Team and Los Angeles County Sheriff Special Victims Bureau were all honored as Super Heroes for their dedication to protecting the youngest crime victims. There were almost 100 silent auction items as well as exciting live auction items which all raised money to support the programs to minimize trauma to children who have been abused. We especially wish to thank our wonderful MC, Thom Mrozek, Spokesperson for the United States Attorney’s Office, Felita Kealing, our fabulous auctioneer and Trent Tue Dang of TDangPhotography for donating his time to take wonderful, professional pictures. We also wish to thank our generous sponsors: The Barthold Family Foundation, Los Angeles Trial Lawyer’s Charities, Forensic Nurse Specialists, Taylor & Ring, Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, Kathy Cady & John Pomroy, Lillian Lovelace, Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, Los Angeles Association of Deputy District Attorneys, Shernoff Bidart Echeverria LLP, John & Billie Maguire, Ralph Shapira and Traci Kaas/The Settlement Alliance West as well as Los Angeles County Supervisors Hilda L. Solis (1st District), Mark Ridley-Thomas (2nd District), Don Knabe (4th District) and Michael D. Antonovich (5th District).
On October 17, 2016, John Pomroy, a CAC Founding Board Member, and Past President of the Board of Directors stepped down from his position as the Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director of the Children’s Advocacy Center to spend more time with family. Though we are all sad to see John go, he will stay connected with the CAC as a board member and volunteer, providing outreach services, training and working with donors.
This move has created an exciting opportunity for Susy Flores, who moves from being the Program Director/Forensic Interview Specialist, to her new role as Executive Director/Forensic Interview Specialist. Susy has been a forensic interviewer for about ten years and has been the CAC’s lead forensic interview specialist for several years. She has helped maintain relationships with our multi-disciplinary team partners. Susy’s background is a mental health clinician and before that, she worked in municipal government.
Ray Inge is Vice President of Human Resources for Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center. Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center (PVHMC) is a 437-bed, accredited, acute care hospital with multiple medical offices employing 3,000 Associates serving eastern Los Angeles and western San Bernardino counties.
Ray has over 20 years of executive level experience providing in-depth leadership critical to the overall success and profitability of multi-million and billion dollar revenue organizations. He has an extensive background in Human Resources, Risk Management, Payroll Services and Environmental Health & Safety.
Previously, Ray served as Associate Vice President of Diversity, Human Resources & Employee Services for California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly, Pomona) and served as Executive Officer for Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).
Ray graduated from the University of Redlands with a Master of Arts Degree in Management and he also received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology from Northeast Missouri State University.
Ray has served on numerous Boards and most recently served as Board Member and Vice President of the Board of Director’s for the House of Ruth. He has provided disaster relief in conjunction with the American Red Cross and has served a variety of committee’s for community organizations.
In a further effort to minimize trauma to children, the CAC Board of Directors has approved the use of a therapy dog at the CAC to greet and wait with children and their families. Therapy dogs empower victims and provide emotional support. There is a body of scientific evidence proving dogs are the one animal who impact our blood pressure and other health indicators in a positive way. Minimizing stress for victims and their families is consistent with our mission. Therapy dogs are routinely used at hospitals and recently started working at airports to alleviate stress for travelers. The CAC has taken a leadership role in Los Angeles and is the first agency to start this kind of program by entering into a partnership with The Pet Prescription TEAM who will provide the volunteer handlers and therapy dogs. http://www.petprescriptionteam.com/
Below are links to articles that discuss the importance of therapy dogs:
National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse: How Therapy Animals Can Help Maltreated Children (2010) http://www.ncdsv.org/images/NDAA_HowTherapyAnimals_Update_v22n7.pdf
Prosecutor’s Brief (CDAA Quarterly Journal) It’s About Dog-Gone Time: Courthouse Dogs (2012) http://www.courthousedogs.com/pdf/CourthouseDogs-ProsecutorsBrief.pdf
Super Hero Malinda Wheeler has given tirelessly to children who have been abused. Over the years, Malinda has provided extensive assistance to the Children’s Advocacy Center to make it what it is today. She has been involved in every aspect of the CAC from visionary, board member, forensic nurse, forensic interviewer, donor and volunteer. She is one of the original board members currently serving on the CAC board of directors for the last 10 years!
At a time when the CAC didn’t have forensic interviewers, Malinda completed the required training for forensic interviewers and took over all the forensic interviews until we could find a replacement. She remains a back up interviewer and steps in whenever needed, including weekends, all on a volunteer basis.
In addition to her personal commitments of time and monetary contributions to the Children’s Advocacy Center, Malinda has also fully participated in several fund raising events. She remains passionate about helping children, carefully listening to them and sending a message that she cares about each and every one of them.
The Children.s Advocacy Center for Child Abuse Assessment and Treatment, now in Covina (serving the eastern end of Los Angeles County and the San Gabriel Valley) has once again been received status as an accredited member of the National Children’s Alliance (NCA), joining over 500 other member programs across the United States. Organizations can be recommended for membership following an extensive application and site review process to determine compliance with minimum standards set by NCA. Core components include separate, child-friendly facilities for interviewing and providing services to child victims and their non-offending family members; coordinated, multidisciplinary investigation of reports of abuse; and regular interdisciplinary case review.
Attention to the needs and abilities of children is a hallmark of Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) programs and is fundamental to NCA standards. Recent research has validated the long-held belief that when interactions with children are age-appropriate and provided in a supportive manner, children are more likely to provide accurate and truthful information to investigators, clinicians and other professionals, which is clearly in the best interest of everyone involved in and affected by child abuse.
NCA is a sub-grantor of federal funds from the Department of Justice. The National Children’s Alliance represents children’s advocacy centers located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the United States Virgin Islands and Canada.
We would like to thank Anita Hughes and Jeanne Roy, two wonderful women, for their leadership –
In October, 2013, Jeanne Roy stepped down from being our Executive Directors after more than seven years. Jeanne was part of the working group that created the CAC in 2002 and was a founding member of the original Board of Directors where she served as secretary. Through her leadership, the CAC was granted accreditation. She successfully led the CAC with her easy going spirit, and ability to collaborate and reach out to all multi-disciplinary partners and community agencies. Her passion to advocate for victims of child abuse is clear from her letter “Speak up for Kids” to the editor of the Daily Bulletin in August 2012. http://www.dailybulletin.com/20120901/speak-up-for-kids which is also posted on the CAC’s website.
Anita Hughes was the President of the Board of Directors from 2010 until January, 2014. She willingly took over the position of President mid term when the previous president had some medical issues. She kept the board on task and ensured that various projects were completed. She generously offered her home for board meetings and was readily available whenever needed.
View photos of our facility
I am honored to serve as the CAC Board President after serving on the Board for the last three years. I have over 20 years of experience in the field of child abuse and I am finding my work with the CAC to be extremely rewarding. After obtaining a Bachelors Degree in Social Work in 1990, I worked as a Children’s Services Worker in Detroit Michigan for two years. In 1995, I obtained a law degree from Whittier Law School and started working at the Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles. There I spent 10 years providing legal representation to abused and neglected children in Dependency proceedings. In 2005, I became a Deputy County Counsel for the Dependency Division of the Los Angeles County Counsel’s office where I represent the Department of Children and Family Services in Dependency proceedings. In 2006 I was Certified by the National Association of Counsel for Children as a Child Welfare Law Specialist. Being asked to join the Board of the CAC was an honor as I was aware of their excellent reputation in the legal and social work community.
This is an exciting year for the CAC and I am thrilled to be a part of our change and growth. We are celebrating our 10 year anniversary with a Gala in October. The move to our beautiful new facility has finally taken place. This facility provides a calm, peaceful home like setting for children and their families. It will also enable us to grow and provide more services to the children and families we serve. I welcome the opportunity to discuss the CAC, board membership, community involvement and giving. Thank you for celebrating our successes with us and for your support to help children who’ve been abused. – Maria Griglio