The Children's Advocacy Center of the Coastal Bend puts Children First

The Children’s Advocacy Center of the Coastal Bend puts Children First

The Children’s Advocacy Center of the Coastal Bend seeks to minimize the trauma of abuse investigations while caring for the children at the center of them

Imagine children, whose lives have been altered by unspeakable trauma, having to retell their stories of abuse repeatedly to doctors, lawyers, investigators and judges. Through its multidisciplinary team approach, this is exactly what the Children’s Advocacy Center of the Coastal Bend (CACCB) seeks to avoid. 

Established in 1994, the CACCB was created in response to poor execution of child abuse investigations. According to Executive Director Clarissa Mora, “In the late ’80s and early ’90s, law enforcement and the Department of Family Protective Services (DFPS) were not trained on how to interview children. Now we have specialists who undergo professional training to interview children in a developmentally appropriate way.” 

The CACCB provides free services, including specialized forensic interviews, community education, case management, teen support groups and therapeutic recovery, and CACCB serves 10 counties — Aransas, Bee, Brooks, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kleberg, Live Oak, Nueces, McMullen and San Patricio — across the Coastal Bend. It is now the third busiest Children’s Advocacy Center in Texas, providing services to 1,400 children annually. 

The CACCB has interviewed more than 40,000 children since 1994. “Our goal is to only do one interview with a child,” Mora explained. “The child tells their story once to a trained interviewer, who collaborates with DFPS and law enforcement to formulate the right questions to ask in a way that does not retraumatize the child and moves an investigation forward.”

When child abuse is reported to DFPS, the CACCB also receives the report. If the case meets the criteria for services, the Center coordinates case review meetings with its multidisciplinary team, consisting of representatives from district attorney offices, law enforcement, Department of Family Protective Services, Driscoll Children’s Hospital, forensic interview specialists and mental health professionals. The CACCB creates a child-focused meeting environment, encouraging partners to communicate and make effective decisions together about how to respond appropriately to help the child.

When asked how the community can help the organization, Mora replied, “There are financial implications involved when a family is going through this, so tangible and monetary donations are tremendously helpful.”

The CACCB houses a Rainbow Room, or a resource room, that promotes the well-being of affected children and families. Donations needed to supply the room include new, non-used socks, shoes, hygiene products, blankets, stuffed animals and books. “We also need individually wrapped snacks and drinks to provide to children to help make them more comfortable,” Mora said: “water, juice, Rice Krispie treats and pretzels are examples of snacks we accept.”

From ensuring an appropriate interview process to connecting children to a comprehensive treatment plan, the Children’s Advocacy Center of the Coastal Bend strives to put children first by facilitating a competent response to child abuse investigations in the community.

Contact: 5959 S. Staples St.   •   361.855.9058  •