Good Deed: Children’s Advocacy Center receives grant to address victims of pornography, trafficking

The Children's Advocacy Center of Hamilton County was one of 27 projects from across the country to be awarded a grant by the National Children's Alliance to address child victims of pornography and human trafficking, it was recently announced.

This $75,000 grant will be used to address policies and procedures related to the investigation of child sexual exploitation materials and human trafficking cases of children in Hamilton County. The center sees children who are victims of severe abuse, including sexual abuse, physical abuse and witness to violent crimes, according to a news release.

"We have seen these cases for the last several years and know they are complex," Executive Director Kristen Pavlik McCallie said in the release. "The CAC model is one with a team approach, and it is vital that our policies and procedures for each kind of case, including trafficking cases, have strong protocols. This grant will help us to ensure that."

The multi-jurisdictional nature of these cases creates different needs.

The grant will provide funds to bring together team members who are part of the Child Protective Investigation Team to examine national best practices in investigation, procedures and policies for children who are victims of human trafficking. The team, which meets regularly to staff cases seen at the CAC, is headed by Hamilton County District Attorney Coty Wamp.

"The value of the CAC in our community cannot be understated," Wamp said in the news release. "In criminal justice we must prioritize — prioritizing means protecting children and families at all costs."

Joseph E. Carrico, special agent in charge of the Knoxville Field Office, Federal Bureau of Investigations, said children's advocacy centers are an "integral resource" for law enforcement officials.

"They serve as a safe place for children to be interviewed and for families to seek resources during their time of need," he said in the release.

Staff at the center, located off Brainerd Road, provide forensic interviews, medical examinations, therapy, family advocacy and prevention education. Intervention and healing can begin to take place in one location where all professionals and agencies responsible for investigating and providing services can provide a coordinated response on a child's developmentally appropriate level.

All services are free to the children and non-offending caregivers.

The Children's Advocacy Center of Hamilton County was established as a 501c3 agency in 1991.

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