Advocating for Advocates: Ike Gives to Franklin-Williamson Child Advocacy Center

Ike Honda and Volkswagen of Marion are joining forces to give back to the Southern Illinois Community. We’re meeting with organizations in our area, providing a platform to spread their mission, and donating funds to selected charities. Some causes are difficult to discuss, including advocacy for abused children, but this service is imperative to our community. The Franklin-Williamson Child Advocacy Center addresses the physical, emotional, and legal dimensions of abuse for children in our area. We met with Executive Director, Sarah Anderson, to learn more about the Child Advocacy Center’s mission and services and how our community can help support the organization.

The Franklin-Williamson Child Advocacy Center (CAC), located in Herrin, Illinois, serves child victims of sexual abuse and severe physical abuse, child witnesses to homicide or other violent crimes, and any children at risk. Victims under 18 with an open investigation in Franklin or Williamson County are eligible for their services.

Sarah and her team ensure when a child discloses any type of abuse, they’re not revictimized by the system that’s set to protect them. They partner with DCFS, law enforcement, mental health agencies, medical providers, and a state attorney to conduct a coordinated investigation of the abuse. Throughout the investigation, the Franklin-Williamson CAC is a liaison between the child and all other parties. The CAC’s child advocates are often the one constant in the child’s life from the initial outcry of abuse until the case is settled in court, a process that can take more than five years.

The Child Advocacy Center contracts with therapists to help reduce the child’s trauma and teach them how to work through what happened to them. Short-term counseling is available to children, and if long-term counseling is needed, they can set them up with that. They can also connect the child with specialized medical services if needed.

The Franklin-Williamson CAC was put to the test during the COVID-19 lockdown. Their work was a critical service when children were at home with their abusers, not at school, not around mandated reporters who could have gotten them help during an outcry. Sarah shared that according to the National Children’s Alliance, 95% of abusers are someone the family knows, and over 70% of abusers are the parent or caregiver. The team at the CAC reached out to at-risk children during this time, got them the help they needed, kept doors of communication open, and continued to provide counseling. The Franklin-Williamson CAC didn’t close its doors for a single day throughout the pandemic.

This enormous feat is a testament to the passion of Sarah’s team. “You always hear so many people say, ‘Oh my gosh. I could never do that job.’ and I guess, just stepping up and doing it is something that we all realize we need to do,” shared Sarah.

What keeps the team truly motivated is the impact they can make on a child’s life. Regarding when a case is settled in their favor, Sarah shared, “Each one of those wins we celebrate like no other.” She also explained, “Even if it’s not something that makes it all the way to court, knowing we were able to minimize the trauma that child went through is a huge win for us. It’s a life-changing event that happened to them. Being able to provide a safe space for them to tell their story, that they feel like they’re being listened to, they’re being believed, they’re being heard [is a win].”

The CAC’s work to secure the best possible outcome for the child while minimizing the child’s trauma requires the community’s support. While grants represent the bulk of their funding, fundraisers and donations are imperative to maintaining their operation. During Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, the community can participate in the CAC’s Blue Kids Campaign. The Chuck Garnatti Memorial Golf Fundraiser is held each summer with the help of the State’s attorney’s office. The Harvest Moon Ball is held in conjunction with the Perry Jackson Advocacy Center each fall. Outside of supporting these events, you can help spread the word about the Franklin-Williamson Child Advocacy Center or donate. Submit an online form, email [email protected] or call (618) 942-3800 to submit your donation.

We love selling and servicing cars, but at the end of the day, it’s the community that truly supports us, so we love the opportunity to give back. We’re proud to help spread the CAC’s mission and support their organization with a donation of $1,800 this spring.

Ike Honda and Volkswagen of Marion are on the hunt for more local charities to support. Have someone in mind? Complete our Suggest a Charity form and tell us about your favorite non-profit. To support our current Ike Gives nominees, visit either dealership and use a wooden nickel to vote for which organizations you want us to support. No purchase is necessary.

Ashlee Church of Ike Honda presents a check for $1,800 to Sarah Anderson, Executive Director of Franklin-Williamson Child Advocacy Center