Children's Advocacy Center helps children exposed to violence


It provides a centralized location where child victims can begin to find healing and city agencies can coordinate their responses.

"San Francisco has 6,000 reports of child abuse each year. It's actually the highest rate in the entire Bay Area," San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center Executive Director Katie Albright said.

Albright and CAC Director Chris Stewart, M.D., want to talk about the new program he's directing, the Children's Advocacy Center of San Francisco. It's helping children in a state-of-the-art facility and is the first of its kind partnership in the country.

All of the services are under one roof, including the San Francisco Department of Public Health, the district attorney, Human Services Agency, city attorney, police department and the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center.

The partners want children to know that help is available to them in a safe place because so many suffer in silence.

"There's support for the idea that just telling your story and being listened to and believed is a very important thing," Stewart said.

Stewart walked us through the process that children and their families or caregivers go through.

They take an elevator to the center's floor and are greeted and checked in by a person with a warm smile. Then, they go into a child friendly reception room, filled with sunshine.

"Once the team is ready, the interviewer will come and bring the child back. They'll be brought to one of the interview rooms. We have two, one for younger children and one for adolescents," Stewart said. "They tell their story here to a trained interviewer who can put it into child appropriate language and allow them to tell what happened, while behind the mirror are the people who need the information for their investigations. It's all recorded, so we have state-of-the-art equipment here to do that," he added.

There's also an exam room for the children.

It took several years and an extraordinary commitment from many generous donors and city agency partners to make this happen. One of the major donors is Tipping Point Community.

"This idea of a new building came up and we were very excited to participate," Tipping Point Community Co-founder Daniel Lurie said.

Tipping Point Community was founded by Lurie and his colleagues to find programs to fight poverty in the Bay Area.

"At our Tipping Point function a few years ago, we raised $4 million in one night to help launch this new center," Lurie said.

Tipping Point is helping support two programs in the new Center For Youth Wellness on 3rd Street. The new Children's Advocacy Center and the CPMC Bayview Child Health Center.

"If you're fighting poverty in the Bay Area, you always have to protect your most vulnerable and those are our children," Lurie said.

"For many years, the work is happening at the basement of General Hospital by highly trained experts, partners at UCSF, partners at San Francisco General who are trained in both providing medical and forensic services to children in crisis," Albright said.

Those experts at San Francisco General Hospital are in the process of moving to the new location. That community effort is allowing for major changes this year to help even more children in San Francisco.

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