Children's Advocacy Center: About Us
The Peoria County Children's Advocacy Center provides a home-like environment where child victims can disclose abuse to law enforcement and child protective services in privacy and safety and can receive services in one location. The CAC opened its doors in October 1998 at the State's Attorney's Office while a new location was prepared.
In May 2000, the CAC moved into the newly remodeled Peoria County facility which was formerly the juvenile detention center. The CAC is located in the heart of the East Bluff of Peoria which is convenient and accessible to our clients and multi-disciplinary team members. Our building is handicapped accessible and has private parking, a child-friendly waiting room, offices for staff and MDT members, a conference room, an interview room and an observation room.
- Multi-Disciplinary Team Investigation
The team is a group of interagency professionals to ensure a prompt response to allegations of abuse. This team approach limits the number of times that a child must disclose, reducing the trauma to the child. CAC cases are reviewed by the team to provide quality, efficient services to the children and families.
- Forensic Interviews
All interviews are conducted by a specially trained interviewer in a room designed to assure the child’s comfort. The detailed, sensitive, non-leading, legally sound interview is recorded to avoid duplicate disclosures.
A Case Manager provides continuous support to the children and families throughout the investigation and prosecution process. They assist with victim rights information, the justice system, orders of protection, and serve as a liaison to families during the court process. The Case Manager also makes prompt medical, mental health, and community service referrals and provides on-going follow up support and education.
- Conduct investigations in a victim-sensitive manner
- Utilize a coordinated multi-disciplinary team among agencies for each case
- Minimize the stress and limit the number of interviews for victims of child abuse
- Support the victim and non-offending family members by offering coordinated medical, legal, and community advocacy services
- Ensure the safety of the victim by holding the offender responsible for their actions
|Executive Director Donna Cruz
Donna Cruz has been employed by the Peoria County State's Attorney's Office since 1990 and has served as a juvenile abuse and neglect assistant, as the Chief of the Juvenile Division, and as a felony assistant. As Executive Director, Ms. Cruz reviews ongoing investigations, participates in Multidisciplinary Team meetings, acts as a liaison between the Children's Advocacy Center and the State’s Attorney’s Office, DCFS Division of Child Protection, the Peoria Police Department, the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office, and all police agencies within Peoria County. Ms. Cruz provides direction to the Director and is responsible for ensuring that the Children's Advocacy Center fulfills its mission.
|Director Sharon Watson
Sharon Watson graduated from Bradley University and has been with the State's Attorney's Office since 2011. She develops and administers standards, procedures, and goals related to personnel, budget, grants, accreditation, and facilities to achieve effective and economical daily operation of the agency and works with all Multi-Disciplinary agencies to ensure the effective coordination of investigations, interviewing, and team meetings.
|Case Manager Joricka Tooles
Joricka Tooles has worked in the children's social services field since 1996. Ms. Tooles duties as Case Manager include assessing victim children and their non-offending family members to determine their need for counseling and making referrals for appropriate counseling, maintaining all data collection and record keeping for Children's Advocacy Center cases, scheduling medical evaluations as requested by the investigators, scheduling the child interviews and the Multidisciplinary Team Meetings, and serving as an advocate for the victims and their families during the investigation and court proceedings.