Our goal is really quite simple – to protect and uphold the rights of children when wrongs have been committed against them, to help abused or neglected children have safe permanent homes where they can thrive, to act as a powerful voice in these children’s best interests and to educate the public about the plight of abused children.
Advocacy Network for Children, formerly known as Children’s Action Network, is a not for profit organization. Established in 1990 as a Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Adams County, the agency focused on the recruitment, training and supervision of volunteers who speak in the best interest of abused or neglected children in the court system. As the agency broadened its mission to serve abused children in the community, it opened its doors of the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) in Adams County in 1999 and the Children’s Advocacy Center in Pike County in 2002. The agency officially changed its name in 2002 to Children’s Action Network in an effort to better reflect all the services of the organization provides.
Two additional Children’s Advocacy Centers were opened in 2004. A CAC in Rushville provides services to abused children and their non-offending families in Brown, Cass and Schuyler Counties, and is referred to as Tri-County CAC. A CAC in Carthage was opened to serve Hancock County.
In 2005, Scott County was added to the Pike County CAC office and Morgan County was added in 2006. The most recent expansion was in April of 2007 with the addition of McDonough County to the Hancock County CAC. There are now interview sites in each of the counties to serve child victims of severe physical and sexual abuse and their non-offending families. We are now the largest service CAC in Illinois serving nine counties in the west central part of the state between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers.
All of the Children’s Advocacy Centers are fully accredited through the National Children’s Alliance. The CASA program of Adams County is a member in good standing of National CASA Association.
The agency changed its name again in March 2008 to Advocacy Network for Children. The focus on advocacy better describes the mission and programs of the agency.
CASA of McDonough County opened in July of 2011 and started training volunteers that fall. There are now over 15 volunteers advocating for abused and neglected children in the McDonough County court system.
The newest program addition to the agency is the Prevention Program, “P.S. It’s My Body/Happy Bear”. This research-based curriculum teaches children safety strategies and is designed to decrease children’s risk of being abused. Children will learn to recognize welcome and unwelcome touches, practice saying “No” and moving away, and identify trusted adults they can report unwelcome touches to. Children will be reminded that they have the right to say “No” and that abuse is never their fault. The program includes a teacher and parent component that provides safety tips, strategies for talking to children about personal safety, and what to do if a child discloses abuse.