There are lots of Child Advocacy Centers in Michigan, serving the needs of children who’ve been harmed through neglect or abuse, and their families. According to Children’s Advocacy Centers of Michigan, a nonprofit aimed at unifying and strengthening Michigan’s response to child victims of abuse, the goal is that every child in need will have access to an advocacy center. Currently there are CAC services in most counties in Michigan’s lower peninsula. The upper peninsula, on the other hand, is a different story.
There is a serious shortage of CACs in the UP!
There are a total of 15 counties in Michigan’s upper peninsula. However, of those 15, only 8 have CACs that are in the process of being developed. 7 have nothing at all. So why is it so hard to get CACs rolling in counties with no child victim services? Well, it’s a process that requires a great deal of effort, funding and resources, and those things aren’t alway available.
However, Delta County is one of the lucky few up north that’s slated to have a CAC open soon. Located in the former Michigan Works! building, behind the Delta County Service Center, this particular center is being established by the Northern Michigan Mobile Child Advocacy Center (NMMCAC). Currently, NMMCAC serves Gladwin, Clare and Missaukee Counties, but they’re looking forward to adding Delta to that list!
It’s been a process of slow but steady expansion in northern Michigan
The NMMCAC initially opened its doors in Harrison, Michigan, in 2014, serving the neighboring counties of Clare and Gladwin. It later expanded to offer mobile services to the greater Gladwin and Missaukee counties. In 2016, Children’s Advocacy Centers of Michigan (CACMI) did an assessment of all child advocacy centers across Michigan. The results were enlightening.
Apparently 11% of Michigan’s children had no access to an advocacy center, and the majority of them lived in the Upper Peninsula. Now, NMMCAC’s second expansion is allowing them to open doors in Delta County, to serve children and families there as well. The center is largely funded through a grant from the Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women, under the Rural Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking Program.
The plan is to offer services in every Michigan county in the future!
While this advocacy center will serve the children of Delta County, there are still many communities in northern Michigan that have no access to child advocacy centers. How will this happen? With the Statewide Development Plan, which aims to guide CAC growth in Michigan to ensure that CACs are sustainable and meet the needs of local communities. Eventually, all children in Michigan who are victims of abuse and neglect will have access to the services they need, and won’t be revictimized by the very system put in place to help them. But until that day, it’s one step at a time.