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History In The Making

The first child advocacy center (CAC) was established in 1985 in Huntsville, Alabama.  Former Alabama Congressman, Robert E. "Bud" Cramer, organized the effort to create a better system for abused children.  At the time he was the district attorney. Cramer believed when the criminal justice systems were not working together it created a segmented and often frightening experience for the child victims.  It also was the cause for repetitious investigating, which can be harmful to the child and also devastating to the investigation. Cramer devised a system where all investigative parties collaborate and investigate together.  They interview the child one time, they meet regularly to discuss all aspects of the investigation, and they use each other's expertise to develop the best case against the alleged offender.

This system worked so well it spread across the nation.  The National Network of Children's Advocacy Center was established in 1990 and then later became known as the National Children's Alliance (NCA).  NCA provides guidance, funding, technical support, research and support to all of the child advocacy centers in the United States. There are currently over 900 centers in the United States that are accredited through NCA, including Illinois. 100 of the 102 counties in Illinois are represented by an accredited CAC. 

The late Illinois State Senator Scott Bennett started the conversation with the Vermilion County State's Attorney, Jacqueline Lacy, to bring a CAC to Vermilion County.  They worked together to write grants for start up funding, applied for the nonprofit status 501c3, and found a location to begin renovations.  They consulted with the Illinois Chapter, Children Advocacy Centers of Illinois (CACI), to bring this vision to fruition. Vermilion County was the last county in Illinois to be represented by a CAC, and has now been accredited since October 2022! 

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