Child Advocacy

SERVICES

For Parents

Body Safety Education training for adults

One in 10 children will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday, and we know that 90% of children who are sexually abused are abused by someone they know and trust (Darkness to Light). Child Advocacy offers a 1-hour training that teaches adults about the importance of talking to children about their bodies, boundaries, and sex. We believe that parents and caregivers are the most important influence in empowering children and protecting them from sexual abuse. We understand that this can be an uncomfortable topic, which is why we developed this training. Our goal is to better help adults in feeling confident and supported, with a variety resources to make these conversations with children easier.

Caregiver support group

Child Advocacy offers a monthly support group for those raising non-biological children (foster parents, adoptive parents, relative caregivers, kinship caregivers, and fictive caregivers). This group provides social support, community networking of resources, group facilitation, and professional training. A new training topic is offered each month and can be used towards required training hours. Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of every month from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Childcare is provided. Contact us today to add your contact information to our email and call lists!  

Parenting classes

Happiest Baby (0 – 4 months)
Participants learn that during the “missing 4th trimester”, babies experience increased crying. This 1-session class teaches calming and soothing techniques for baby.

Baby Basics (0-12 months)
A 1-session class that teaches best practices for infant safe sleep, as well as the dangers of shaken baby syndrome. A focus on proper handling of infants is covered as well.

For Families

Baby pantry

The Baby Pantry is open each Wednesday from 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., providing free diapers, wipes, formula, food, clothing, and more. It is available to all Gratiot County residents with children under age 5. There are absolutely no income requirements to receive our services. The Baby Pantry will be closed on direct holidays and when Alma Public Schools close due to weather.

Donations are accepted during our normal business hours. The Baby Pantry is always in need of diapers (especially sizes 5, 6, 7), training pants, wipes, formula (purple “gentle” and yellow “infant” cans), and gently-used clothing. We cannot accept the following items due to safety hazards and concerns: expired and/or previously opened food and formula, medication, cribs, crib bumpers, wedges or positioners, and car seat accessories.

Volunteers are always needed. We rely on our Baby Pantry Volunteers to help us run the pantry when it’s open, and help with organization and restocking when it’s closed. There are many opportunities with flexible hours. All Volunteers receive onboarding training, infant safe sleep training, and are invited to our annual Baby Pantry meeting. Visit our Volunteer Opportunities tab to learn more.

The Baby Pantry believes in promoting education of safe parenting practices such as infant safe sleep, the prevention of shaken baby syndrome, and other positive parenting strategies. Each month, service organizations are invited to visit the Baby Pantry to provide education and referrals to our families. 

Our Baby Pantry is proud to lead efforts in connecting Michigan baby pantries together. Other baby pantries in the state can be added to our distribution list  and are invited to our regularly scheduled meetings to network, connect, and learn from one another.

Car seat safety

It is estimated that 98% of car seats are not installed properly. A nationally-certified Child Passenger Safety Technician is available to assess proper fit and installation, check for recalls, and ensure your car seat is not expired. Contact our office to schedule your car seat inspection today! There are a limited number of replacement seats available for eligible families. See eligibility details here.

FORENSIC INTERVIEWING

Forensic interviews are provided to children, adolescents, and vulnerable adults who are suspected victims of sexual abuse, severe physical abuse, may be drug-endangered, or who witness a violent crime. These interviews are conducted in a child-friendly environment by a trained forensic interviewer and are designed to gather facts in a manner that is legally sound, developmentally appropriate, and safe.

Lending Library

A free resource library for parents, caregivers, childcare providers, and more! The Lending Library offers theme-based activity totes, story stretchers, and a large book and video selection on various developmental topics and parenting concerns.

MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES

The Children’s Advocacy Center provides on-site trauma informed therapy as well as referrals to local mental health providers for counseling when appropriate.

monthly family support group

The Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) of Gratiot County offers a monthly family support group for caregivers of children that have visited the CAC for services. The group offers an opportunity for caregivers to share their thoughts/feelings, receive emotional support, and discuss solutions to issues they may be experiencing.

SPECIALIZED MEDICAL EVALUATIONS AND TREATMENT

When appropriate, referrals are made to medical providers trained to work specifically with children and adolescents who may be victims of abuse.

VICTIM ADVOCACY AND FAMILY SUPPORT

Victim advocates provide crisis intervention, information about the CAC Model and investigative processes, trauma assessments, referrals to specialized services, and ongoing follow-up support to children and their non-offending family members and caregivers. Victim advocates also serve as the voice for each child victim (and their family) within the multidisciplinary team.

For school age children

Above the influence

Child Advocacy works in collaboration with area schools to provide an Above the Influence campaign to youth in Gratiot County.  The campaign is designed to bring awareness of positive and negative influences that can affect the youth in our communities.  The campaign gives students tools they need to rise above negative influences.

As part of the Above the Influence campaign, students in Gratiot County visually express what keeps them Above the Influence by creating artwork for our annual Art Show Telling Their Stories.

Above the Influence Basketball Awareness Nights

The Gratiot County Above the Influence students work all year to bring awareness to different negative topics they feel are prevalent in our community. The students work diligently during meetings to plan a night that takes place during one of the schools home varsity basketball games. ATI students make posters that they decorate the gym with, they have an information table, as well as perform a half time speech to the audience on the topic of the their choice. This is a great opportunity for students to express their concerns to their community and raise awareness on these different controversial topics.

CAC Art Therapy Group

The Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) offers an art therapy group for high school and middle school girls. Their time together is spent using art and creative crafts to discuss and process age-related topics. They are sharing their Heart Story: “Art is the Voice of the Heart.”

How to Quit Juuling and Vaping Program

How to Quit Juuling and Vaping Program is for teens who are struggling with Juuling/Vaping and are looking to Quit.  The program clearly describes several quitting methods including cold turkey, tapering and nicotine replacement therapy. Teens using these methods inform viewers of what works and what does not and why.

Teens participating in the class will be able to:

  • recognize, it is possible to quit
  • identify signs of nicotine addiction
  • identify signs of nicotine withdrawal
  • appreciate the strength that can come from a community of peers who are also trying to quit
  • learn more about their own triggers of using nicotine
  • identify a number of practical ways to deal with nicotine withdrawal and understand the need for an organized plan before taking the first steps of quitting

It’s All About Being a Teen

It’s All About Being a Teen is a competency-based curriculum that helps teens sort out the challenges of adolescence. GCSAC has certified It’s All About Being a Teen teacher on staff who can offer the program to any youth seeking help to navigate the teen years.  This program is designed to increase positive self-worth, personal empowerment, self-discipline, empathy, healthy attachments, and resilient-protective behaviors. 

problem id & referral

This program is designed to identify youth at the early onset of risky behavior.  Referrals can be made for youth who are exhibiting chronic school discipline, attendance concerns, substance abuse concerns, or concerning behavior at home.  Screenings are free of charge.

Protect yourself Program

The Protect Yourself program is a series of 5 safety lessons that teach children how to recognize and respond to abductions and abusive situations. Topics include: Personal Safety, Recognizing Feelings, Recognizing Tricks and Lures, Protecting Our Own Bodies, and Identifying Support and Telling. It is offered directly through all Gratiot County Public Schools to first and third grade students. Parents and caregivers are notified before our CAN Prevention Educator visits each school, and Parent Pages are sent home with children after each lesson. Parents are invited to attend Protect Yourself Parent Nights that are offered throughout the year, which go over the lessons in detail and provide ways to further discussions at home.

The Art of Being a Girl-Middle School and High School Groups

The Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) of Gratiot County offers a monthly art therapy group for both middle school age girls and for high school age girls that have accessed the CAC for Services. The intention of these groups is to empower girls by identifying and reducing trauma symptoms, and increasing self- awareness through gentle processes such as expressive art, music, writing and mindfulness.  Additionally, the groups offer an opportunity for teens to connect with each other, share stories and support others on similar journeys.

professionals & Community Members

CAN committee

The Child Abuse and Neglect Council Advisory Committee is focused on bringing community awareness to the prevention of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect of children living in Gratiot County. The CAN Committee is responsible for reviewing Gratiot County child abuse and neglect statistics, identifying community needs, and developing plans of action and awareness. Meetings are held bi-monthly from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Anyone who is interested in joining is welcome to contact us for more information.

CAN COMMITTEE MEMBERSHIP
Alma College
Child Advocacy
EightCAP Inc.
Gratiot Integrated Health Network
Gratiot Psychological Services
Gratiot-Isabella RESD
Ithaca Public Schools
Mid Michigan Foster Adoptive Coalition
MidMichigan Health – Gratiot
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (Gratiot)
Royal Family Kids Ithaca
St. Louis Public Schools

casa volunteer training

CASA of Gratiot County’s volunteers complete a 40-hour specialized training on how to advocate for the best interests of children who have experienced abuse and/or neglect. The curriculum includes the following topics: the role of the volunteer, the child welfare system, needs and development of children, trauma, mental health, poverty, professional communication, cultural competence, educational needs, and permanency. Volunteer training can be held in-person or virtually with CASA staff and volunteers. Dates and times are determined upon being invited to attend our next training class.

Child Advocacy Lunch & Learns

Child Advocacy hosts a Lunch & Learn either in person or virtually the 1st Thursday of every month from 11:30am – 1:00pm on a variety of topics. Please check our events section for current topics.

Compliance Checks

Gratiot County Substance Abuse Coalition partners with local law enforcement to conduct compliance checks as a way to enforce state laws and/or local ordinances related to serving or selling alcoholic beverages and tobacco products. Working alongside GCSAC and law enforcement, trained youth (usually between 16-19 years of age) attempt to purchase alcohol/tobacco products. Compliance checks create a mechanism to identify, warn and educate alcohol and tobacco licensees that are in violation of sales and service laws in their state.

Gratiot County Substance Abuse Coalition

GCSAC is a collaborative countywide decision-making body of community members that convenes monthly to address the issue of substance abuse prevention needs for Gratiot County. Our coalition meets every second Monday of the month at 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Meetings are currently being held as ZOOM meetings, for meeting links please visit Gratiot County-Child Advocacy Facebook page for meeting invites. We welcome community involvement in the coalition and are always looking for new members. If you would like to help prevent substance abuse in Gratiot County and promote a healthy environment for the members of our communities, please consider attending one of our monthly meetings. If you would like more information on GCSAC, please feel free to contact Emily Rayburn, Coalition Coordinator at (989) 463-1422.

Mandated reporter training

Mandated Reporters are required by law to report child abuse and neglect concerns. The law does not require proof that Mandated Reporters have evidence of abuse, it only requires suspicion. The identity of the Mandated Reporter (and anyone else who makes a “good faith” report to Centralized Intake) is kept confidential under the law except under judicial process. Child Advocacy offers a 1-hour training that provides updates on the Michigan Child Protection Law and the Mandated Reporter’s legal responsibility. See the list of Mandated Reporter professions here.

Pinwheels for prevention

The pinwheel is the nationally recognized symbol for child abuse and neglect prevention. It stands as an uplifting reminder that all children deserve great childhoods. Our pinwheel gardens are planted each April, in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month. Order forms are made available in March for those who would like their own pinwheel gardens.

Prescription drug drop box

Permanent drop box locations are available for prescription drugs at:

Gratiot County Sheriff Department

Alma Police Department

St. Louis Police Department

Breckenridge Police Department

226 E. Center St.

525 E. Superior St.

108 W. Saginaw St.

104 E. Saginaw St.

The sites accept prescription pills and patches.

QPR Training

Child Advocacy offers QPR Trainings FREE to your organization. QPR stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer. These 3 steps can help anyone learn to save a life from suicide. Individuals trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of suicide and how to question, persuade, and refer an individual to helpful resources. Call 989-466-1422 to speak with Ty about scheduling your upcoming training.

Responsible Prescribing Series

GCSAC collaborates with MidMichigan Medical Center- Gratiot and MidMichigan District Health Department to offer the Responsible Prescribing Series each year. Together this collaborative workgroup is able to bring renowned medical professionals to Gratiot County to provide continuing education on hot topics.  This series of educational sessions is FREE to Physicians, Nurses, Behavioral Services and Human Services Professionals in Gratiot County. Topics covered in previous series include opioid use disorder treatment and recovery, Adverse Childhood Experiences, Medically Assisted Treatment, and Suicide Prevention.

Stewards of Children Training

The Stewards of Children training is a 2.5-hour training that teaches adults how to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. This training teaches the 5 steps in protecting children: Learn the Facts, Minimize Opportunity, Talk About It, Recognize the Signs, and React Responsibly. It can be tailored to meet the needs of parents/caregivers, daycares, schools, faith-based organizations, athletics, and more. Adults will learn everyday strategies that protect children from sexual abuse, including how to talk to children about their bodies and how to develop child protection policies in youth-serving settings. Stewards of Children is approved for 2 contact hours of continuing education by the National Association of Social Workers, and for Dentists and Dental Hygienists.

TIPS

TIPs is an education and training program for the responsible service, sale, and consumption of alcohol. TIPS stands for Training for Intervention ProcedureS.  GCSAC has certified TIPs Trainers on staff who are available to train your employees in TIPS alcohol training for both on and off premise alcohol vendors.  The goal of TIPS is to empower participants to follow acceptable standards of practice for serving alcohol beverages.

Vendor Education

Vendor education is designed to keep tobacco and alcohol products out of the hands of the youth in our community as well as educate vendors about the regulations in Gratiot County and the state of Michigan. Through this education, vendors are taught the repercussions of those who do not comply with the laws, as well as to help vendors avoid costly fines for non-compliance.