ABINGDON, Va. – On October 1,  the Children’s Advocacy Center of Bristol, Washington, and Smyth County will officially become a service of Highlands Community Services, according to a written statement.

“HCS administration was contacted by the leadership at the Children’s Advocacy Center in Bristol a few months ago requesting our help," according to HCS Executive Director Jeff Fox. "The CAC has been faced with a complex set of challenges that have jeopardized their ability to ensure that their critical, and very valued services, to the children of our community can continue. HCS has agreed to join forces with the CAC, providing the comprehensive clinical and financial support needed. HCS can assist the CAC in expanding their services and reaching into the future like never before. We are looking forward to being able to help protect such an incredibly important community resource.”

Center Executive Director Kathi Roark said the change will be expand services.

“The CAC is poised at the edge another opportunity for growth," Roark said in the statement. "Confronted with a landscape of dwindling local, state, and federal funding for service delivery, and a rising demand for services, the CAC board of directors approached Highlands Community Services for a possible partnership arrangement."

The center reported a 31% increase in new victims in fiscal 2015.

"HCS administration was quick to respond with very positive actions. HCS is able to provide the administrative infrastructure and financial support needed for the CAC to continue its operations without any lapse in service delivery," Roark said. "The merger of the two organizations will provide the community with an expanded, trauma-focused approach to child abuse treatment, with an extensive array of wrap-around services available to support victims and families. The CAC will continue to operate out of its current location in Bristol, VA and will maintain its name. The CAC staff will continue doing the great work that local agencies rely on.”

The center will continue to operate out of its current location in Bristol, Virginia and will maintain its name but it will reflect the new partnership.

“This is a positive integration of two systems .The future is very bright for the CAC, and we are thrilled," Roark said.

The Children's Advocacy Center leverages the efforts of law enforcement, prosecutors, medical and mental health providers, social workers, and others to provide a seamless, comprehensive system of support for child victims of neglect, sexual, and physical abuse.

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