Children's Advocacy Center serving McLean, Livingston & Dewitt Counties
Since 1995, the McLean County Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) has been providing specialized services to child victims and their nonoffending caregivers in McLean County. In 1999, we expanded our efforts and began to serve Livingston and Dewitt County children, pursuant to the protocol, at satellite locations within those jurisdictions. The CAC is a safe and child-friendly place where children who may have been abused or witnessed violence can come to talk about their experiences with trained professionals. The CAC provides a supportive environment for the child and their family and coordinates the investigation and intervention process to minimize trauma for the child. At the CAC, there is an inter-agency coordinated response in which representatives from law enforcement, child protection, prosecution, mental health, medical, and victim advocacy - collaborate to investigate child abuse reports, conduct forensic interviews, determine and provide evidence-based interventions, and assess cases for prosecution. The CAC provides a strong community presence and outreach on child abuse prevention and education issues.
The mission of the CAC is to support the rights of children in cases of abuse and neglect, to operate utilizing the ChildFirst® Doctrine, and to protect children from abuse. The CAC aims to provide comprehensive service delivery to child victims and their families, ensuring that the best interests of abused/neglected children are met.
The Children's Advocacy Center does not discriminate on the basis of gender identity, race, national origin, color, religion, sex, disability, age, and sexual orientation.
Referrals to the McLean County Children’s Advocacy Center are made by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and law enforcement. The CAC provides case coordination, forensic interviews, advocacy, and mental health services.
Multidisciplinary Team Coordination (MDT)
Upon receiving a case, the CAC collaborates with our partner agencies to coordinate the investigation, prosecution, and treatment of child abuse cases. Active Case Coordination by the MDT includes communicating with our partner agencies to document and update client cases, initiating and coordinating case investigation and movement, and conducting MDT collaboration meetings.
A forensic interview is a structured, open-ended conversation that is child-centered and non-leading about a possible event(s) they may have experienced or witnessed. The goals of the forensic interview are to find facts, assess the child’s safety, assess the need for medical or mental health care, and minimize the number of times the child talks about the events or experiences.
Advocates play a crucial role in helping to support the child and their families throughout the whole process. As the case goes through the investigation, prosecution, and healing process, the Advocate is there to help the family understand the process and learn about their rights. They offer support and assistance with referrals for resources such as counseling and other community support. Families may have access to food, clothing, toiletries, and other financial assistance as needed.
Mental Health Services
The Children’s Advocacy Center provides a safe place for children and their families to begin healing after experiencing child abuse or witnessing a violent crime. Part of our multidisciplinary team response includes access to trauma assessment and specialized trauma-focused mental health services for child victims and non-offending family members.
Before the interview, during the interview, and post-interview, our MDT professionals work together to make decisions about how to help the alleged victim and their family throughout the case. The MDT response to child abuse is at the core of the CAC’s work. An MDT is a group of professionals from distinct disciplines who collaborate from the initiation of an investigation throughout the life of the case.
Prosecutors provide legal expertise to determine whether the case is able to be prosecuted.
Investigators from the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) work closely with the Children's Advocacy Center's staff to ensure the well-being of child victims, to ensure children’s safety while the investigation is ongoing.
A trained forensic interviewer interviews children in a private, child-friendly space. The MDT observes the interview from an adjoining room. This allows the team to hear the child's disclosure and address any investigative and protective concerns at one time. The interview is conducted in a developmentally appropriate and legally sound manner.
Pediatric Resource Center (PRC) is a community service program of the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria, IL. PRC’s specialized medical and social service staff provide direct services to suspected child victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect in a child-friendly manner and setting. They also provide supportive services to parents, guardians, and caretakers.
Known as the "lifeline" throughout the process, the advocates ensure that children and families receive resources, education, and support throughout the case.
Local law enforcement officers within McLean, Livingston, and DeWitt counties respond to reports and investigate allegations of sexual abuse. They are responsible for collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses, and alleged perpetrators, making arrests when appropriate, and helping to ensure the child and family's safety.
Mental Health Services
Specialized mental health providers work with children and their trauma to help them process the feelings often associated with victimization, such as trust, blame, guilt, safety, and feelings of responsibility for the disruption that may be occurring in your family system.
Stephanie Jewett - Director of Community Education & Training
Amber Stensrud - Senior Forensic Interviewer
Megan Workman - Forensic Interviewer
Amanda Goben - Senior Advocate/MDT Coordinator
Kristin Oliger - Advocate
Brittany Gerard - Therapist
Nikki Meyer - Prevention Educator
Feta - Facility Dog
McLean County CAC:
200 W. Front St., Suite 500B
Bloomington, IL 61701
Livingston County CAC:
308 E. Torrance Ave.
Pontiac, IL 61764
DeWitt County CAC:
100 S. Center St., Suite 202
Clinton, IL 61727
Want to learn about the other CACs in the state of Illinois? Click here to find out where they are located and which counties they cover.
- What Happens at the Children’s Advocacy Center?
The Children’s Advocacy Center is a safe, child-friendly location for children to speak with trained interviewers.
We work with a team of professionals, including law enforcement, DCFS, prosecutors, therapists, and medical providers. During your visit, you will be able to meet some of the professionals working with you and your child and ask them further questions.
When you arrive at the CAC, one of our Advocates will show your child(ren) around the Children’s Advocacy Center. They will get to see the room where they will talk to their forensic interviewer. This will be their chance to get familiar with the process and ask any questions they might have.
- Who will my child talk to?
Your child will be talking to one of our specialized forensic interviewers. Forensic interviewers are trained to ask open-ended, developmentally appropriate, and non-leading questions. Forensic interviewers receive ongoing training to ensure quality and best practice standards are upheld.
Interviews take place in one of our child-friendly interview rooms. Each room is equipped with comfortable seating and recording equipment.
- Will I be able to watch my child’s interview?
Only professionals directly involved with the investigation observe the interview. This provides the most neutral setting for the child to be able to speak freely. Professionals directly involved in the investigation include law enforcement, DCFS, prosecution, and Advocates. The team members have the responsibility of observing, assessing, and investigating the allegations. In order to keep the team’s focus on the child, caregivers are not permitted in the observation room.
All interviews at the Children’s Advocacy Center are recorded to minimize the number of times a child will have to discuss the allegations. The recording of the interview is released to law enforcement and/or a prosecuting attorney if requested. The recording is not otherwise released without a court order to ensure complete confidentiality.
- What will I be doing while my child is in the interview?
When your child meets with the forensic interviewer, you will meet with your Advocate. The Advocate’s role is to offer support, answer questions, and provide you with referrals for other services you may need. Your Advocate will be with you throughout the whole process at the Children’s Advocacy Center and will continue to follow up with you.
If you have other children with you during your visit, they are welcome to play in our playroom area so you can talk privately to your Advocate.
- What happens after the interview?
Following the interview, you will meet with investigative members involved in the case. They will share information about the interview and the next steps. A referral for medical or mental health services may be completed depending on the circumstances and information obtained in the interview.
If you have questions at any point during the investigation or prosecution of your child’s case, please contact your advocate.
Social Stories are powerful and helpful to many children. They were initially created for children with autism to help them learn how to navigate in certain situations, understand social norms, and learn how to communicate with others appropriately. However, they can be beneficial for explaining new places and changes to any child. If you know what location your child will be interviewed at, please click on the link, and review the tour of each county.
Reporting Child Abuse
Call 1-800-252-2873 if you suspect that a child has been harmed or is at risk of being harmed by abuse or neglect. If you believe a child is in immediate danger of harm, call 911 first.
In non-emergency situations, anyone may report suspected child abuse or neglect using the Online Reporting System.
The Attorney General is the state’s chief legal officer and is responsible for protecting the public interest of the state and its people. The job of the Attorney General is to: advocate on behalf of all of the people of Illinois, work with members of the General Assembly for new laws, represent state government in litigation, and litigate to ensure state and federal laws are followed and respected.
The link listed below will give a multitude of different rights, programs, and acts set in place for Crime Victims.
Child abuse is a community problem, and it will take a community response to solve it. We are excited to work with you to help keep children in our community safe from abuse.
The holiday season can be challenging (both financially and emotionally) for some of the families we serve. Because of this, the CAC staff go above and beyond to ensure our clients and their families have something to celebrate. We would not be able to do it without the fantastic community support we receive year after year. Our holiday helping program allows community members like yourself or businesses to donate presents or gift cards for children whose families may be unable to provide for them during this time of hardship. If you are interested in learning more about getting involved in our holiday helping program or are interested in participating this year, please reach out to Stephanie at [email protected] or 309-888-4594.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, a significant month in the world of Children’s Advocacy Centers. Although we believe that child abuse prevention should be promoted all year long, we understand the importance of April and join in the initiative. Make sure to follow us on our social media platforms as we provide prevention tactics, awareness material, and helpful tips on keeping children safe. You may see blue pinwheel gardens planted throughout all three of our counties, which symbolizes the importance of having crucial conversations about child abuse. The CAC also hosts community events and additional training opportunities during April.
You may see specific needs presented on our social media platforms throughout the year. This is another opportunity we give our community members to provide new items to our families experiencing hardships. These drives provide things such as new toys for our waiting rooms, trauma-informed coping items (fidgets), snacks, school supplies, or any other need that our families present. All donated items are directly dispersed to our clients in the three counties we serve.
CAC Wish List
Amazon Snacks - Provided to children when they come to each center for an interview or therapy services
Amazon Play Room/Waiting Areas - Help us continue to update our supplies for the playrooms in each of our 3 counties