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La Rabida Children's Advocacy Center expands services by more than 200%

Park Forest, Ill.-based La Rabida Children's Advocacy Center has — in less than one year — doubled the amount of services provided to children who've experienced alleged sexual abuse or psychological trauma.

When Christina Ayala took over as CAC program director in December 2016, the center serviced children ages 3 to 13. Under her leadership, the center expanded this age group to treat children 2 to 17 years old.

"There were a lot of different changes I made when I got there," Ms. Ayala tells Becker's. "I also expanded treatment criteria to include children who are victims of violent crimes, which includes victims of human trafficking, child pornography and witnesses to homicides, stabbings, domestic violence, etc."

Ms. Ayala implemented these programmatic changes — which also included longer hours of operation at the center — in late January to early February.

"We've already noticed a huge difference," Ms. Alaya says. "We had a huge increase in referrals."

The center now treats about 40 children monthly, representing a 204 percent increase in services provided, according to an emailed news release.

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