By Kennedy Dendy | Broadcast Reporter
The Advocacy Center for Crime Victims and Children has offered its services to victims with a large variety of resources to promote hope and advocacy since 1976. The center has been at its current location since March 2018 and aims “to promote healing of children and crime victims through advocacy, collaboration, prevention, and treatment.”
Dr. Kerry Burkley is the Program Director for the Children’s Advocacy Center and graduated from Baylor with a dual degree in journalism and religion. He began his journey as the education coordinator for the Advocacy Center, just a few days after finishing school.
“It doesn’t matter what the crime is,” Burkley said. “It doesn’t matter how long ago the crime has occurred. The majority of our clientele are survivors of sexual abuse or sexual assault cases, but we do see clients who are relatives of those who have been murdered, identity theft, or any crime.”
The services at the center are free and available to clients and their families at no charge.
“My program is a part of a Texas organization called Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas, which focuses on child abuse investigations,” Burkley said. “All cases are unfortunate events, like child sexual abuse, physical abuse, trafficking cases, maltreatment cases and indecency cases.”
Locally, the Advocacy Center covers six counties and the Children’s Advocacy Center covers five of those counties. There are several programs that exist, including the Children’s Advocacy Center, Victims Center program and Prevention and Education.
“We also have forensic interviewing, which is an opportunity for trained professional forensic interviewers to talk to children who allege abuse that has happened to them,” Burkley said. “We do that in a controlled environment, record it and hand it all to law enforcement and CPS. Then, they can do their investigation. As we talk to them, the case managers talk with parents to talk about other resources that are available.”
Clients can walk in to receive assistance during normal business hours. They can also use the hotline at 254-752-7233 or toll-free at 888-867-7233.
“Our team of professionals are trained and ready to assist families to get back to a sense of new normal,” Burkley said. “Things are never going to be the same, but we try to give them the resources that they can to survive, thrive, and make their families just as strong as they were before.”