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Chicago Children's Advocacy Center recognized as 'Human Trafficking Hero'

Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center is being recognized this week by Senator McConnaughay as a "Human Trafficking Hero."

"Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center works with government and community groups to help abused children, including those who have been victimized by, or are at risk for human trafficking and sexual exploitation, " McConnaughay said. "This organization is on the front lines of the fight against human trafficking."

ChicagoCAC and its partners serve as the first-responders to reports of child sexual abuse and exploitation in the city of Chicago.  It is the city’s only not-for-profit organization that coordinates the efforts of child protection staff, law enforcement professionals, family advocates, medical experts and mental health clinicians under one roof.  Each year, it responds to more than 2,000 reports of child sexual abuse and exploitation.

Youth in Chicago who are suspected victims of exploitation and trafficking are referred to ChicagoCAC by partner agencies, such as the FBI, Chicago Police Department, and Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.  Working with these and other members of the Cook County Human Trafficking Task Force, ChicagoCAC provides support, advocacy and mental health services to youth and families, and helps facilitate a collaborative, trauma-informed investigative process.

When children come to the center for sexual abuse investigations, ChicagoCAC screens them to determine if they are suspected victims of or at risk for trafficking or exploitation.  All children who are determined to be at high-risk, are assigned a specialized social worker who is trained in identifying and working with trafficking victims. This specialist works to evaluate the unique needs of each child and develop the appropriate response.

"We know that these cases are incredibly complex, and require an intensive, coordinated response to ensure that victims are able to escape their abusers and begin on the path to hope and healing," said Executive Director of ChicagoCAC, Char Rivette.  "These children have experienced severe trauma, and having a dedicated advocate on their side is critical to their recovery."

ChicagoCAC’s specialized response includes providing crisis intervention for children in mental distress, linking victims to residential and support services, and referring survivors to counseling.  The specialist also works with caregivers to provide them with the resources needed to support their child’s recovery. For victims who have suffered severe forms of abuse and require time before they are ready to work with investigators or engage in treatment and other support, the specialist works to form trust with victims and break down barriers to participation in investigations and treatment services.

More information on Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center can be found at www.chicagocac.org.

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