Dallas Organization Fights to Help Local Children

Dallas Children's Advocacy Center | Culture Map Dallas

During 2020, many Americans found themselves spending much more time at home than they usually would. For some people, home is not a safe haven.

Reports of domestic violence and child abuse rose nationwide during the pandemic. The Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, a local organization, received over 28,000 reports of child abuse, more than any other year. Cases in Dallas County accounted for almost half of the state’s 61,000 cases in 2020, a 3% rise from the year before.

DCAC coordinates between multiple agencies such as CPS, medical professionals, and the district attorney’s office. They also offer counseling and healing services to children and non-offending members, which was made more difficult by Covid-19.

“As you would imagine, COVID-19 brought along a set of challenges for us,” said Suzanne Anderson, a certified therapist for DCAC. “Children were more isolated than ever. So as therapists working with them virtually, we had to have an eye on safety and any possible dangers more than ever.”

Now, with many of these children returning to school for the first time in more than a year, DCAC is trying to prepare both kids and their caretakers for this transition.

In Dallas County, approximately 45% of DCAC’s clients are Latino, with another 30% being African American. Having a predominantly minority clientele has led the organization to focus on diversity in its staffing.

Current CEO Irish Burch was formally a forensic interviewer, one of the very few female African-American interviewers. She has seen firsthand that having someone who looks and speaks like them is helpful for these children.

“It is so essential for these clients coming into our doors, that they feel welcome, and they feel like there are people here who understand them can relate to the things that they face in their household,” Burch said. “They can speak in the same language that they do.”

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