Children’s Advocacy Center awarded grant from Kellogg Foundation

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Melissa Werkman. Courtesy Children’s Advocacy Center of Kent County

A local nonprofit received a grant to aid in providing barrier-free resources for children of color who are victims of sexual abuse. 

The Children’s Advocacy Center of Kent County (CAC) received a $40,000, two-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to create a program focused on reducing race-based inequality for children of color and their families in Kent County who have been impacted by sexual abuse.

According to CAC, roughly 3,500 children of color residing in Kent County experience sexual abuse each year. For those children and their families, the process of finding help often is barred by issues of systemic racism, making children of color at added risk of adverse childhood experiences, which can compound the process of healing.

This initiative will use a trauma-informed approach to aiding child survivors of sexual abuse, and will focus on creating strategies to address systemic racism in social work. The CAC’s program will work with individuals of color to identify barriers to reporting or accessing services to create a network of care that is accessible and attuned to needs in the community.

“With this initiative, we can create a more trauma-informed, racially responsible system to serve child survivors,” said Melissa Werkman, CAC president and CEO. “Through listening and inquiry, conducted in partnership with community members, we will ensure services at our CAC are culturally and racially responsive, antiracist and child/family-centered for all children in our county. Every child has a right to heal, and we hope to ensure that race and ethnicity are not determinants to accessing our services.”

CAC brings together child protective services, law enforcement, medical professionals, therapists and other help, free of charge, for children who were abused and their families.

“It is imperative that the degree and type of response from our multidisciplinary team, including law enforcement, children’s protective services, nurse sexual assault examiners, forensic interviewers, case managers, family advocates, therapists and prosecutors, is not only trauma-informed but also culturally congruent,” Werkman said. “Our team must be aware of the barriers that exist and work systematically to reduce those barriers.” 

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, founded in 1930, is one of the largest philanthropic organizations in the U.S. Based in Battle Creek, the foundation works throughout the U.S. and internationally to help provide equal opportunities for vulnerable or underrepresented children.

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