In 1998, through a multidisciplinary task force which determined that a child advocacy center was the most comprehensive and effective solution to increased reports of child sexual abuse, the Child First Advocacy Center (CFAC) was established. Since then, it has flourished and became a fully accredited member of the National Children’s Alliance (NCA) in 2004. The Rutland Unit for Special Investigations (RUSI) is a multi-agency task force dedicated to providing criminal response to reports of sexual assaults, serious child abuse, and fatalities. RUSI has been part of The Child First Advocacy Center (CFAC) since 2009 when they became co-located. Co-located services ensure a dramatic reduction in the number of victim interviews, increased successful prosecutions and consistent and compassionate support. The program currently consists of three police detectives, a unit director, a victim advocate and an in-house investigator with the Department for Children and Families (DCF).
In the near future Wendy Loomis, Executive Director of CFAC and RUSI wants to house a prosecutor and mental health provider to streamline the process. Her hope is to make the experience for the children and the families that utilize the services of the CAC as pleasant and as seamless as possible. Serving 28 towns in Rutland County, CFAC and RUSI have seen 142 children for allegations of sexual and severe physical abuse as of November 2014.
Wendy is joined by Kate Wilcox, Victim Advocate/Case Manager at CFAC; Andy Todd, Vermont State Police; Jim Bennick, Rutland County Sheriff and Laurie Bland, Department for Children and Families. Wendy and the rest of her awesome team recently welcomed Ed Dumas from the Rutland City Police Department. Ed replaced David Lachance who is now the leading detective/sergeant for the BCI division in Rutland County.
After 5 years of basement dwelling, CFAC and RUSI are now located in a newly renovated office with plenty of space and natural light. This new environment will allow them to have more flexibility and opportunity to house other partner organizations such as a prosecutor and mental health provider. An open house and ribbon cutting ceremony was held on October 23rd, and there was a great turnout of community members, partnership organizations and local government officials.
Their mission to provide a safe and supportive environment to assist victims and their families in the discovery, intervention, treatment and prevention of child sexual abuse through careful and efficient investigation, prosecution and intervention is attainable. With a top-notch staff and a new location, RUSI/CFAC is helping kids and families end the cycle of abuse.