CHARLESTON (WVDN) – The West Virginia Child Advocacy Network (WVCAN) released its Statewide Data Report for the 2022 fiscal year (July 1, 2021-June 30, 2022). The data in the report reflects service from West Virginia’s 21 Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) which provided official service to 45 of 55 counties in the state. A CAC provides a safe, child-friendly facility where child protection, criminal justice and child treatment professionals work together to investigate abuse, hold offenders accountable and help children heal.
During the year, CACs served 4,703 children – a 20% increase in new children served in the last five years. Highlights from the report include:
• 52% of the children served were there because of allegations of sexual abuse.
• 24% of the children served by CACs were six years old or younger.
• 95% of alleged offenders were someone the child knew.
• 27% of children are reported to have one or more disabilities.
• 678 cases had charges filed.
• 270 individuals were convicted for crimes against children.
• 325,325 children (94% of the state’s population) live in a county officially served by a CAC.
• 33,770 children (6% of the state’s population) live in a county without official CAC coverage.
In the 2022 fiscal year, 67% of children who received a forensic interview at a CAC disclosed abuse. Thirty-three percent of children interviewed made no disclosure of abuse during the forensic interview. Even when a child does not disclose, the multidisciplinary team may still have good cause to investigate the reports that prompted the child’s services at the CAC.
Caregivers visiting CACs are asked to take a survey about their experience. One hundred percent of caregivers surveyed said if they knew anyone else who was dealing with a situation like the one their family faced, they would tell that person about the child advocacy center.
The report includes data on victim demographics, alleged offender demographics, reported vs. disclosed abuse, services performed, criminal justice response and CAC income budget breakdown.
“The number of children served by West Virginia CACs is growing each year. Kids are becoming more aware of the issue and the services CACs provide, and ultimately are more comfortable telling someone when abuse happens,” said Kate Flack, chief executive officer of the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network. “We must continue and expand our support of Child Advocacy Centers, who are on the front lines serving child survivors of abuse and ensuring they receive hope, healing and justice.”