LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) – Since it opened the Child Advocacy Center has served enough children to fill Pinnacle Bank Arena and then some.
A $5.2 million expansion that broke ground Monday afternoon hopes to keep that work going for years to come.
That project aims to renovate and expand existing space and it also expands vital community partnerships.
The CAC here in Lincoln serves 17 counties in southeast Nebraska. Its services are used by children ages three to 18, in everything from court proceedings, to mental health services, and criminal investigations.
Bailey Neville is just one of over 18,000 survivors the Child Advocacy Center has helped in its 23 years. She said being on hand for the groundbreaking ceremony, brings a lot of emotion.
“I came here through here and went through court proceedings for about a year,” Neville said. “She was with me every step of the way and she really made me feel like I had a lot of people in my corner.”
Part of that expansion will house LPD’s special victims unit. Right now, the department has investigators working in various roles that fall under special victims cases like sexual assault, child abuse, domestic violence and more.
“Going into one facility and it’s doing all things you have to do in order to have a case go forward or really if someone chooses not to go forward they can get all the resources in one place,” said Chief Teresa Ewins. “And that’s the most important part and it’s really keeping the victims in mind in this whole structure.”
It also expands the CACs medical program installing three full-time clinics which will be able to conduct medical exams and collect potential evidence.
“The Child Advocacy Center model exists because of the multidisciplinary team and our ability to unite the multiple agencies who respond to child abuse investigations,” said Paige Piper the executive director.
The 17,000 square feet expansion will also add space for children being removed from their homes. With items for play, plus meals and quiet time within the sometimes hectic transition.
“So for us, everything that we do is with the children in mind, our #1 core value is kids come first always,” Piper said.
So far the CAC has raised $3.6 of that $5.2 million goal to get it all done. If all goes according to plan it should be open in the spring of 2023.
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