October 8, 2015
Will County Children’s Advocacy Center to celebrate 20 years of service to abused children with Oct. 27 Rialto event
JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow invites the public to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the founding of the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center.
The anniversary celebration will be from 5-7 p.m. Tuesday Oct. 27 at the Rialto Square Theatre, 102 N. Chicago St. in downtown Joliet. The event is free and will include hors d’oeuvres, dessert and a cash bar. RSVPs to (815) 774-4565 are appreciated.
The Children’s Advocacy Center, which has been providing hope, healing and justice to abused children since 1995, also will join State’s Attorney Glasgow in honoring three individuals who were instrumental in establishing the center and/or enabling it to continue its important work.
Honorees are: Sister Coletta Hennessy, O.S.F., of Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center, Paul Pawlak president and chief executive officer of Silver Cross Hospital and Dr. Sangita Rangala of the Care Center at Edward Hospital.
Sister Hennessy was the director of the Saint Joseph Medical Center’s Social Accountability and Community Grant Program, which matched an Illinois Department of Children and Family Services grant to open the Children’s Advocacy Center in 1995. President and Chief Executive Officer Pawlak donated an office suite on the Silver Cross Hospital campus for the newly established center in 1995. And Dr. Rangala began providing medical exams for children at Edward Hospital’s specialized Care Center in 2002 and continues to provide those services today.
In addition, the Children’s Advocacy Center and the State’s Attorney will honor the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services for its role in funding the creation of the center as well as its cooperation and partnership over the past two decades.
During the event, State’s Attorney Glasgow also will formally introduce Lisa Morel Las, who was recently named the Executive Director of the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center. And the center will unveil its newly redesigned logo by JV Murphy & Associates.
The State’s Attorney established the Children’s Advocacy Center as a 501-(c)-3 charitable organization in 1995 to vastly improve investigations into cases involving the sexual abuse of children. Today, when children make outcries of sexual abuse, they are brought to the center, where trained and compassionate forensic interviewers obtain an accurate statement in a neutral, non-suggestive and child-friendly environment.
Interviews recorded at the Children’s Advocacy Center have been used in the successful prosecution of thousands of child predators over the last two decades. In addition, the center’s experienced staff provides children and families with counseling, medical exams, legal advocacy, community resource referrals and other social services to enable the healing process to begin.
Within a year of opening, the center was granted full membership status in the National Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers, now known as the National Children’s Alliance, and earned full accreditation by 2004.
Recognizing a greater need, Glasgow offered the center’s services to both Kendall and Grundy Counties until both counties were able to establish their own centers (Kendall in 2007; Grundy in 2010) to serve abused children.
In 2012, the Paws-4-Kids pet therapy program introduced Jackson, a yellow Labrador retriever licensed through Therapy Dog International, to children who visit the center. Jackson offers furry friendship and canine comfort to children who have suffered the trauma of sexual and physical abuse.
“The Will County Children’s Advocacy Center was a game changer that improved police investigations into sexual abuse cases involving children,” Glasgow said. “The people and institutions we will honor during our 20th anniversary celebration were instrumental in the formation of a center that has delivered justice and helped to heal thousands of abused children.
This is an opportunity to look back on the important work the center has performed on behalf of these vulnerable children. It is also an opportunity to look ahead as we plan for the future.”
The anniversary celebration sponsors are: ExxonMobil; D’Arcy Automobiles, Joliet; and EZ Auto Sales.
August 18, 2015
Lisa Morel Las to take helm at Will County Children’s Advocacy Center
JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announces that Lisa Morel Las has been selected to take the helm as the new Executive Director of the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center.
Las served most recently as the Chief Executive Officer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties. She will bring to the Children’s Advocacy Center her enthusiasm and expertise in managing and growing community-based, not-for-profit organizations.
During her 11-year tenure at Big Brothers Big Sisters, Las dramatically raised the organization’s community profile, secured more than $1 million in federal grant funding and spearheaded a successful capital campaign to purchase new office headquarters in Joliet. Under her direction, the organization also opened satellite offices to serve the needs of children in Grundy, Kankakee and Iroquois counties.
“Lisa’s tremendous successes at Big Brothers Big Sisters brought this important community organization to the highest possible level of service on behalf of local children who need mentorship and support,” said State’s Attorney Glasgow. “We’re pleased she will put her passion and skills to work for the Children’s Advocacy Center as we plan for the expansion of services to sexually abused children and their families.”
Glasgow established the Children’s Advocacy Center 20 years ago to vastly improve investigations into cases involving the sexual abuse of children. When children make an outcry of sexual abuse, they are brought to the center, where trained and compassionate forensic interviewers obtain an accurate statement in a neutral, non-suggestive and child-friendly environment.
Interviews recorded at the Children’s Advocacy Center have been used in the successful prosecution of thousands of child predators over the last two decades. In addition, the Center’s experienced staff provides children and families with counseling and other social services that enable the healing process to begin.
In her new role, Las will work closely with the Center’s newest addition, Jackson, a therapy dog that helps drastically reduce the understandable anxiety for children. With a new law that allows therapy dogs in the courtroom, Jackson could find himself on the witness stand with vulnerable children in the near future.
The State’s Attorney established the center in 1995 as a not-for-profit organization so that it will not impact Will County taxpayers. As a result, the Center relies on private and public grants, donations and community fundraisers like the popular Men Who Cook event in March to provide its important services.
Glasgow said the new director will be tasked with substantially expanding community outreach and significantly increasing both public and private-sector funding for the Children’s Advocacy Center. Among a long list of goals is to secure funding to acquire a more child-friendly location that is not situated inside a government building. In addition, the State’s Attorney hopes to secure funding to hire in-house, specially trained investigators to assist in the handling of the Center’s cases.
"I’m excited for this amazing opportunity to lead the organization that State's Attorney Glasgow brought to Will County 20 years ago,” Las said. “The Will County Children’s Advocacy Center provides vital services to the most vulnerable children in our community. It provides a powerful voice for victims of abuse, and it plays a key role in breaking the cycle of abuse through education and prevention programs. It's a privilege to be able to lead an organization that advocates for children and helps to strengthen families.”
Las is no stranger to the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office. She served as the State’s Attorney’s Director of Public Administration between 1995 and 1999 and was instrumental in securing federal grant funding that led to the establishment of the Will County Drug Court program.
Experience working in a multidisciplinary setting and be part of a dynamic culture of professionals who help victims of child sexual abuse to reclaim their lives.
Learn more and apply here.
If you suspect a child is being abused please call the State of Illinois Hotline:
Or call your local law enforcement.