Founded in 1981, the mission of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Florida (CAC) is to provide a coordinated response to child victims of abuse and neglect; and improve the lives of at-risk children and their families through prevention services. At CAC, we assess and treat children believed to have been physically or sexually abused or to be at-risk of such abuse, and a provide a safe place for them to come and be heard. We offer abuse determination services as well as therapeutic counseling, parenting education and prevention programs in Lee, Hendry, Glades and Charlotte Counties.
We are one of the largest children’s advocacy centers in the state of Florida and the only one in the four-county area accredited by the National Children’s Alliance.
If you suspect or know that a child is being abused, call the Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE (962-2873). Calls are confidential. Or you can report the incident online at www.dcf.state.fl.us/abuse/report.
We serve the residents of Lee, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties.
We are located at 3830 Evans Ave. in Ft. Myers. We are within walking distance of LeeTran bus stops. Ample parking is also available. Office hours are Mon-Fri 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, but our Child Protection Team and Medical Staff are on-call 24/7. CAC is not an overnight shelter.
All services are free of charge.
CAC is a child-friendly place where children meet with specially trained staff about issues of child abuse and neglect. If your child is to be interviewed, it will take place in a private, child-friendly room specifically designed for interviewing children.
You might tell your child, “You and I are going to the Children’s Advocacy Center. It is a special place where kids go to talk. There will be a person there who talks to lots of kids about what happens to them and that person will be talking to you too.” You might also consider telling your child, “That person will need to know everything that you remember so we can make sure you are safe and okay.” It is important to let your child know that he or she is not in any trouble.
Your child will meet with a member of the Child Protection Team who has received specialized training in talking to children about difficult subjects. The interviewer’s goal is to make your child as comfortable as possible while gathering the necessary information for an investigation. Questions are asked in a non-threatening and non-leading manner. The interviewer moves at a pace that is comfortable for your child and never forces a child to talk.
Only those parties who are directly involved with the investigation of the allegations are allowed to observe the child’s interview with CAC.
The case coordinator will decide if your child needs a medical exam. If one is needed, one of our medical practitioners will examine your child. You might tell your child, “We are going to see a nurse who takes care of kids. She is not going to hurt you. She just needs to make sure your body is okay.”
You will be asked to talk to a member of the Child Protection Team both before and briefly after the interview. You will have the opportunity to ask questions and voice your concerns.
Yes. Children may be uncomfortable discussing the abuse with their parents because they feel ashamed or guilty. Should negative emotions or reactions to the abuse remain untreated, or if the child cannot properly express discomfort, he or she will experience greater suffering and trauma.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
- President: Cole Peacock, Peacock Consulting
- Vice President: Jake Spanberger, President, Entech IT Consulting
- Treasurer: John Pearson, Fiddlesticks C.C.
- Secretary: John Clinger, Merrill Lynch
- Noelle Branning, Lee County Tax Collector
- Kellie Burns, News Anchor
- David Fry, Owner Dwell Florida & The Place on First
- Larry Hart, Lee County Tax Collector, Retired
- Emily Hunter, Hendry County Board of County Commissioners
- Candis Loving, FL Blue Account Executive, Retired
- Brad Shipley, President, Wiltshire, Whitley, Richardson & English
- Jessica Walker, Markham, Norton, Mosteller, Wright & Co. P.A
CAC LEADERSHIP TEAM
- Julie Boudreaux, CEO
- John Raho, Chief Financial Officer
- Marissa Stress, Operations Director
- Sarah Scozzafava, Quality Management Director
- Lupe Zambrano, Child Protection Team Interim Director
- Charlene Gardner, Prevention Programs Director
- Joanna Orrego, Family Alliance Director
- Lisa Rizzio, Development Director
- Lisa Talcott, Beesley’s Pet Therapy Coordinator
- Tina Kintz, Human Resources Manager