Justice For All Newsletter- Child Abuse Prevention

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Eric Rinehart - Banner

March 31, 2021


Dear residents and community leaders,

Protecting the most vulnerable in our society is the top priority of the Lake County State’s Attorney's Office.  

Everyone in our office has dedicated themselves and their work to protecting the people of Lake County. As we slowly return to normal after a global pandemic, our first thoughts must be to analyze how we can better protect the children.

Prior to the pandemic, national researchers estimated up to 40% of children were either abused or witnessed domestic violence in the home. Our outstanding staff at the Lake County Children’s Advocacy Center has already conducted hundreds of interviews this year, and we know that reports will increase as children return to school. Child abuse does not stop during crisis, and awareness is the key to bringing people forward.

These gut-wrenching numbers must be reversed through the dedicated efforts of our community and our government.  Not only will our office hold responsible those who harm children, but we will work to decrease abuse by expanding our education efforts and providing services to those in need.

In addition to their other critical work, the Lake County Children’s Advocacy Center is taking the lead in educating the public about child abuse through the Blue Kids Campaign. This awareness campaign will reach every corner of the county as we also expand our social media platforms to reach new community members.

We will continue our daily mission of protecting children, and we hope you will join us in promoting that mission and increasing awareness.


 Lake County Children's Advocacy Center Gears Up For Annual Blue Kids Campaign For Child Abuse Prevention 



Lake County Children's Advocacy Center Carrie Flanigan in one of the center's interview rooms with comfort dog Mitch. 

"By spreading awareness and encouraging dialogue, we can prevent abuse from happening in the first place and help keep our children safe"

-Carrie Flanigan

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and few people see the faces of child abuse in the way that workers at the Lake County Children’s Advocacy Center do, week after week, month after month, year after year.

The not-for-profit Children's Advocacy Center provides a safe, warm setting, complete with masterful comfort dog Mitch. A place where children can be interviewed by victim advocates and often reveal the sad, scary and uncomfortable facts of criminal child abuse and acts of assault, whether physical or sexual.

As an arm of the Lake County States Attorney’s Office, the center provides crucial information to investigators on cases in which charges may be brought to court. But it has other goals as well – healing, prevention and awareness.

Children's Advocacy Center officials have built a network of community partners, from police and private businesses to other agencies and individuals, to help make what they do possible, and to work toward the day when the demand for their interview rooms lessens.

Advocacy Center Executive Director Carrie Flanigan said the community partnerships are crucial to building the type of awareness that leads to action, whether it’s legislative protections, volunteering and education, or increasing the number of residents who can recognize the signs of child abuse and are willing to report it.

The program also seeks to engage youth, promoting more peer dialogue on the issue, she said.

“By spreading awareness and encouraging dialogue, we can prevent abuse from happening in the first place and help keep our children safe, Flanigan said. “Together with our community partners, we are working to show a unified front in our mission to end child abuse.”

Flanigan said the center sees about 1,000 child victims each year, providing not only a place for forensic interviews, but also offering counseling and direct support to child victims and their families in a child-friendly atmosphere, including support groups for parents, art groups for children and preventative training programs run in conjunction with its Young Ambassador Board.

Staffing, including assistant state’s attorneys, is provided by the State’s Attorney’s Office through Lake County’s budget, but donations and the hard work of the Friends of the Lake County Children’s Advocacy Center group, other donors and grants help provide many of its amenities.

From individuals to organizations as large as the Chicago Bears, the agency has received funding for expansions and an $80,000 healing garden which was dedicated in 2016 as a place for clients and their families to reflect and find solace.


Mitchell, informally known as Mitch, is a specially-trained comfort dog who helps put children at ease and often brings smiles to their faces at the Lake County Children's Advocacy Center. He is taking a break among a bed of blue pinwheels, the symbol for child abuse prevention and the Blue Kids program.

Residents can help raise awareness of child abuse and its prevention in the following ways:

  • Follow The Children's Advocacy Center on Instagram @childadctrlakeco and Facebook and share our daily posts throughout the month of April.
  • Purchase a flag, t-shirt, or candle from the LCCAC website, www.friendoflccac.org. to display commitment to the issues of Child Abuse.
  • Talk to children in your family about child abuse prevention and staying safe. Share the materials posted under “Blue Kids Program” on our website.
  • Participate in “Dress in Blue Day” on April 14th, 2021 to show support to end child abuse and neglect.
  • Display information in your place of work or business.
  • Support participating community partners and share with friends and neighbors the work that is done at the LCCAC.


A video created by Highland Park takes a look at the Blue Kids program and how it works as a tool for child abuse awareness and protection.


2021 Blue Kids Program Features Countywide Displays to Help Raise Child Abuse Awareness

As a centerpiece of this year's Blue Kids program in Lake County, about 30 separate groups are putting up outdoor displays on child abuse prevention at sites around the county.

Each day throughout April, the CAC will post twice daily, first a graphic related to Child Abuse Prevention Month, and then, later each day, a picture of one of the countywide displays set up as part of the Blue Kids project.

Prior to the event, Children's Advocacy Center Executive Director Carrie Flanigan said the participating groups have been stopping by the center to pick up signs, banners, decorations and outreach materials for distribution for their outdoor displays.

Flanigan said the center worked with the Lake County Map Department to create a interactive map of where the display sites are, as well as information on their work. The interactive map will be available online at https://lakecountyil.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=aa74855b09c74596af8d5cc55a14c356. 

Information about the Blue Kids campaign is also available at the center's website, www.friendoflccac.org.

"We will be sharing so that people go out and view the creativity," Flanigan said.

Then join the Children's Advocacy Center via Zoom for an Awards Ceremony on Friday, April 30 from 11:30 a.m. to  noon. The link to the Zoom ceremony will be posted on the center’s Instagram bio section (@childadctrlakeco) on the morning of the awards. 

Chair of this year's Blue Kids program are advocacy center victim advocates Carrie Wings, Chris Burnside-Newman and Friends of the Lake County Children's Advocacy Center.

Blue Kids program partners include several local police departments as well as the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Office. Also, Friends of the Lake County Children’s Advocacy Center, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Lake County, CYN Counseling Center in Grayslake, the Gurnee Counseling Center, Keeping Families Covered and the Gomez Family.

Others include Mano-A-Mano Family Resource Center, Lake Villa Library, Prairie State Legal Services, the Round Lake Exchange Club, the Round Lake School District, and Warren Township Youth/Family Services.


The Lake County Children's Advocacy Center in Gurnee houses interview rooms and a small medical facility, decor catering toward children and an outdoor Healing garden on it's north side.