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Child Advocacy Center occupies new quarters, still has needs

​​​​Marshfield's Child Advocacy Center (CAC) recently held an open house of its new location in Marshfield. The Center offers a comprehensive community response to the investigation, treatment and prosecution of child abuse and neglect cases in a child-focused, friendly environment.

The CAC first opened in 2009 to provide medical exams and assessments, and interview children and adolescents who were suspected victims of abuse or neglect from Wood County and 17 other counties. The CAC recently moved to a secure location in Marshfield Clinic, where the staff has been supportive and helped raise money to assist the Center and children using it.

"It's very kid-friendly," said Kristen Iniguez, D.O., a pediatric child abuse and neglect specialist who serves as the CAC's medical director. "It's like no other department in the Clinic. It's a beautiful facility that helps kids take their minds off of what is going on and why they are there." She credited Stacia Burrows, community resources manager, for working closely with the architect to work out the design details.

Marshfield's CAC is one of the few facilities in the state that provides all services in the Center itself.  It has its own waiting room so children don't have to wait in the main lobby, and it doubles as a place to keep children entertained, especially when multiple family members are going through it."

The CAC operates under a multi-disciplinary team of professionals that includes representatives from law enforcement, prosecutors, child protective services, medical, victim advocacy and counseling agencies. The Center's location in Marshfield Clinic makes it more convenient for the team to meet, often on short notice.

The CAC includes rooms where children can relax or play games. It has a specially equipped interview room with audio and visual recording equipment discreetly placed.

"In the past, it wasn't unusual for four or more people to interview a child separately," Dr. Iniguez said. "This collaborative arrangement lessens the difficulty, for both the parent and child, of having to repeat over and over what happened." Prosecutors can review an interview, at the discretion of a judge, in lieu of a court appearance that is frightening to a child.

Cases of child abuse and neglect can be heart-wrenching and difficult for many people to even imagine. Local cases of sexual and physical assaults of children ranging from babies to teenagers do occur, unfortunately.

Marshfield Clinic staff systemwide donned blue clothing on Tuesdays in April to share their support, and raised more than $1,800 in the process.

The Child Advocacy Center also receives strong support from the "Fore the Kids" golf event organized by the Meissner family in remembrance of a family member, Steven, who died in a car crash. To-date, the golf event has raised more than $150,000 to support a wide range of services for children. backpack

This year, money raised was used to purchase resource materials, school supplies and backpacks. Items remaining on the CAC wish list include:

  • Draw string/cinch sack bags (Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, sport teams, etc.) 
  • Backpacks (boys/girls)
  • Fun blankets for children and adolescents, and pillows with fun pillow cases or decorative pillows
  • Board games
  • Simple craft activities/kits
  • DVDs, basic MP3 players and headphones
  • Baby dolls
  • Barbie dolls
  • Chapstick/lip gloss
  • Toys for toddlers
  • Journals teens)
  • Coloring books & crayons/markers
  • Gift cards and certificates
  • Small balls (football, kickball, soccer, baseball)
  • Water bottles
  • Cash donations for care packages containing basic daily living supplies.
  • Cash donations for education materials for parents and children, related to protective behaviors

For information on making a gift to support the Marshfield Child Advocacy Center, please contact Marshfield Clinic Development at 1-800-858-5220 or 715-387-9249.