Before child advocacy centers were created, child victims of crime often had to tell their stories to more than a dozen adults - police officers, prosecutors, doctors and social workers. They could be shuttled all over town giving depositions, getting medical exams, and, if the family had no money to pay for treatment, putting their name on a long waiting list for free counseling services. There was very little coordination between the various agencies and children were traumatized all over again as they sought help. In some of the saddest cases, abused children simply fell through the cracks in the system that was supposed to save them.
A 1992 survey of 300 professionals from Denver's city and county agencies confirmed this breakdown of communication between investigators, prosecutors, human services and mental health agencies. In 1996, DCAC began to provide treatment to child victims ages seven through seventeen, although with no home of our own we had to provide services off-site.
We finally found a home in 1998 - one half of a duplex at 1271 Elati Street. In 2000, we began to meet the needs of very young victims of sexual abuse by lowering the age limit for treatment to 3 years old, and we began aquiring a reputation for our vital services to these small children. By 2001 we were serving so many children that we expanded into the entire brownstone on Elati Street.
With the 2002 hiring of executive director Gizane Indart, a bilingual, bicultural professional, we pursued our mission to reach out to the Spanish-speaking families who had nowhere to go for treatment. In 2003, the City Club of Denver honored us with its James Grafton Rogers Award for "an extraordinary and timeless contribution to the quality of life in the Denver region."
In 2004, we hired additional bilingual, bicultural therapists and began serving children as young as one year old. We also signed an historic memorandum of understanding with the Denver Police Department, the Denver District Attorney's Office and the Denver Department of Human Services to conduct all forensic interviews of children under 15 where sexual abuse is suspected or where the child has witnessed homicide or other violent crimes. And we became the proud owner of a new home at 2149 Federal Boulevard.
Today, all of the services needed by child victims and their families - forensic interviews, medical exams, assessment and treatment, and victim support services - are clustered around one central location or close by. DCAC is the hub where representatives from many disciplines meet to discuss and make decisions about the investigation, assessment, treatment and prosecution of child abuse cases. They work together in the best interests of the children, providing an immediate response and ongoing support to help children and families recover from the trauma of abuse or violence.