COOKEVILLE – The Upper Cumberland Child Advocacy Center, which serves child abuse victims in Putnam, Overton, DeKalb, Cumberland, White, Pickett and Clay counties, has appointed a new board of directors.
The group, Matt Phillips, Carolyn Wilson, Debbie Horner, Diane Lynch, Gay Lemmons, Brooke Young, Gayla McBroom, Kelly Swallows and Seth Presley, brings both energy and non-profit experience, said Jennifer Wilkerson, UCCAC director. The center aims to provide a safe, child-friendly environment and one-stop shop – combining efforts of law enforcement, prosecutor and the Department of Child Services. The UCCAC provides the mechanism for all agencies to coordinate strategies and provide a much more effective approach.
One in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday; in one year in Tennessee, more than 5,000 cases of reported child abuse are confirmed.
“In our first few meetings, we have discussed how our center has flown below the radar for too long,” Wilkerson said. “So many people who have lived here since birth don’t even know we exist, or what we do on a daily basis. We need the communities we serve to help us help these kids who so desperately deserve our assistance and love. This board is ready to be the voice for our kids. They need our help today.”
In 2015, the UCCAC provided service to more than 700 children involved in severe child abuse investigations including sexual and physical abuse, drug exposed infants, medical and nutritional neglect, and even death. In addition to these cases, the UCCAC helped provide 150 kids education on body safety and how to protect themselves. There were also a total of 31 children who received some form of material assistance such as clothing, shoes and school supplies. At the UCCAC facility in Putnam County, there were 402 forensic interviews, 89 forensic medical exams, and counseling to 38 children.
Wilkerson said UCCAC will announce fundraising goals and events in the near future. For more information, visit https://ourkidscenter.com/location/cookeville/.