Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Group

We chatted with Pam Darling, Development Director about the mission and goals of the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Group.

Can you briefly tell us the mission of your group?

Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center (TBCAC) is a regional response center for the protection and well being of children. Working with multidisciplinary teams comprised of law enforcement, child protective services, prosecuting attorneys, medical and mental health professionals the Center investigates crimes against children. The majority of cases are child sexual abuse. Free counseling is also available for children and families for as long as needed.TBCAC has a robust prevention program that educates community members on how to spot the signs of abuse, how to prevent abuse, and how to make a report if you suspect abuse. Over 8,000 individuals have taken the training in the Traverse Bay region.

How long has the nonprofit been in Northern Michigan?

  1. In 2020, Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center is celebrating its 10th year.

 

How long have you been with the organization and what drew you to working with them?

I have been with TBCAC for two years. The statistics on child sexual abuse are alarming. At TBCAC, 95% of our cases involve sexual abuse. Nearly all of these children are abused by someone they know and trust– mom or dad, an older sibling, a neighbor, a coach. Nationally, one in 10 children will be abused before they turn 18. The most common age of a child interviewed at TBCAC is just four years old. As a parent and member of the community, it’s important to shine a light on this heartbreaking issue. Children are our future and we all play a role in protecting them.

 

What can $1 do for your organization?

Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy relies on support from donors for our prevention programs. Every dollar can make a difference in the life of a child. TBCAC’s vision is a world without abuse. The more individuals in the community aware of the public health crisis caused by child sexual abuse the more likely we can prevent it from happening. Child sexual abuse is a silent pandemic with only 30% of victims disclosing their abuse before they turn 18, another 30% disclose as adults, and another 30% never disclose at all and take the secret to the grave. It takes all of us to protect children.

 

It is an all-around crazy time, but what are some specific challenges you are facing?

In Michigan, during the first two weeks of March child abuse reports outpaced reports from the previous year and since mid-March, when children were out of school, reports to DHHS dropped by 40%. Given the presentCovid-19 pandemic and the fact that 20% of our cases are reported by teachers, everyone involved in child welfare is concerned that children are being abused but do not have a safe and trusted adult to disclose the abuse to.TBCAC is bracing for a flood of cases when the stay at home order is lifted and school resumes.

Personally, what are things you miss and what do you most look forward to when quarantine is over?

I miss attending live music performances, cultural events like the National Writer’s Series, and enjoying the incredible variety of restaurants we have in northern Michigan. Getting outdoors daily with my two Labs to explore nearby natural areas is keeping me sane. When the quarantine is over, I look forward to gathering with friends and family to celebrate life’s milestones, big and small, in person.

And what are some of your favorite Michigan food and wine pairings?

Bubbly is so versatile. It’s great for any time of the day! I hosted a gathering of longtime supporters of TBCAC last December to celebrate paying off the mortgage on the Center. We toasted with a magnum of Grace and nibbled on the limited edition purple chips from Great Lakes Potato Chip Company. It was the perfect combination of flavors and colors. A glass of Mawby bubbly and Carlson’s smoked whitefish pate’ is a great aperitif and appetizer combination before any meal.