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Center for Alexandria’s Children Sponsors Oscar Night Gala

Gale Curcio
By Gale Curcio
Posted on Feb 09,2011
Filed Under News , Community, Entertainment , Local Style,
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Photo by Gale Curcio/Local Kicks<br />Gisella Pelaez thanks supporters and volunteers for their hard work during last year’s Center for Alexandria’s Children Oscar Night Gala.
Photo by Gale Curcio/Local Kicks
Gisella Pelaez thanks supporters and volunteers for their hard work during
last year’s Center for Alexandria’s Children Oscar Night Gala.

ALEXANDRIA, VA. - Once again, the Center for Alexandria’s Children will roll out the red carpet during their second annual Oscar Night Gala. It will be held on Thursday, February 24, 2011, at Belle Haven Country Club, 6023 Fort Hunt Road, Alexandria, VA 22307

Photo by Gale Curcio/Local Kicks<br />Table centerpieces complete the theme of last year's Oscar Night Gala.<br />
Photo by Gale Curcio/Local Kicks
Table centerpieces complete the theme of last
year's Oscar Night Gala.

Not only will the event help fund the center’s initiatives to help abused children in Alexandria, but it is also an opportunity to recognize and honor Alexandria’s brightest stars.

This year, two extraordinary individuals who have exhibited exceptional dedication and service to improving the lives of Alexandria’s children will be honored.

Dave Cleary, founder of SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now of Northern VA), will be honored with the 2011 CAC Champion of Children Award for an organization he started in 1988 that has helped ensure the safety of thousands of children in northern Virginia.

Alexandria Police Sergeant Bartholomew Bailey will be honored with the 2011 Outstanding Dedication to Alexandria’s Children’s Award for his significant contributions to the Center and dedication to Alexandria’s children and families.

Washington Capitals Forward Mike Knuble and wife, Megan, will serve as honorary co-chairs for an evening of Hollywood glitz and glamour, featuring a mini Oscar raffle, silent auction and cocktail buffet.

Photo by Gale Curcio<br />Children and parents participate in the weekly playgroup held at the Center for Alexandria's Children.
Photo by Gale Curcio
Children and parents participate in the weekly
playgroup held at the Center for Alexandria's
Children.

Last year’s event attracted over 225 people and raised over $75,000 - more than double the budgeted amount. Co-chairs Lauren Garcia and Lori Morris are looking forward to raising at least that much again this year.

Funds will help those children who have been burned with their father’s cigarette, raped when they were six-years-old or shaken so severely as a two-month-old that they had retinal hemorrhages.

The facts are not pretty, but the caring people who work for the Center for Alexandria’s Children (CAC) transform these children’s lives – working with parents and children to get them the help they need.

“It was clear that if we came together as a community, we could better serve these children,” CAC executive director Giselle Pelaez said.  “Our goal is to minimize trauma to these children, begin the healing process and create real systemic change, with the ultimate goal of eradicating child abuse in the City of Alexandria.”

Serving abused children wasn’t always this seamless. Prior to 2007 when the CAC opened its doors, the City of Alexandria had a fragmented approach to serving abused and neglected children. The impetus to create a better system came after the tragic death in 2000 of a preschooler who was killed by her mother’s boyfriend shortly after being returned to her mother’s custody.  

Photo by Gale Curcio<br />Children and parents participate in the weekly playgroup held at the Center for Alexandria's Children.
Photo by Gale Curcio
Children and parents participate in the weekly
playgroup held at the Center for Alexandria's
Children.

The incident underscored gaps in the system and became a catalyst for a public-private Child Welfare Partnership to examine ways to improve the community’s response. To address this situation, the City of Alexandria looked to the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) model, a nationally recognized model for dealing with child maltreatment.  

The new model was designed to minimize trauma to the child and provide support for families in crisis. Utilizing a Multidisciplinary Team (MDT), the Center coordinates the investigation, prosecution, treatment and prevention of child abuse in one safe, child-friendly facility. It is a formula that has been proven to improve outcomes for families and victims of abuse.    

In 2003, the Alexandria Community Trust, now ACT for Alexandria, in partnership with the City of Alexandria committed funds, recruited a board of directors, and equipped a child-friendly facility. The Center for Alexandria’s Children was incorporated in November 2006, and opened for business in April 2007.

In just a short time, the Center has had a significant impact on the community, providing the impetus for key city leaders to pledge to coordinate their disparate efforts, and to mandate changes in how their respective agencies handle child abuse and neglect cases.  
The CAC houses 27 co-located social workers and therapists from Child Protection & Mental Health. The City of Alexandria pays their salaries and currently shares rent for the facility. Additional public and private agencies provide child and family support services at the Center, including the City’s Department of Community and Human Services; Alexandria’s Community Services Board; the Sexual Assault Center; Alexandria Police Department; Alexandria Sheriff’s Office; the City Attorney’s Office; the Alexandria Health Department; and the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney.
    
This arrangement allows the Center to promote cross-agency communication and collaboration as well as to provide services for children and families in one location.

Just as important as treating child abuse, CAC works hard to PREVENT child abuse. Parent education, developmental playgroups, and other family programs strengthen and support vulnerable children and their families and empower them to improve their circumstances and promote the healthy development of their children.
    
Playgroups focus on the importance of learning through play and the key role parents play.  Developmental playgroups aim to improve school-readiness by providing a social environment for children ages 0 to 5 with developmentally appropriate activities.

Playgroups also provide parents an opportunity to connect with each other and to community resources. Developmental playgroups, including one administered in Spanish, are provided in partnership with SCAN of Northern Virginia, the Giving Circle of Alexandria and ACT for Alexandria.

“The Center for Alexandria’s Children has served over a thousand children and families affected by abuse and neglect since opening its doors in 2006,” Dana Lawhorne, Alexandria Sheriff and CAC board member said.  “It is a powerful new tool in our city’s arsenal to fight and eventually eradicate child abuse and neglect.

Oscar Night Tickets start at $125 each and are available online at www.oscarnight.@eventbrite.com or by phone at 703-746-6008. The Center for Alexandria’s Children is located at 1900 North Beauregard Street, Suite 200, Alexandria, VA 22311. They can be reached at 703-746-6008 or at info@centerforalexandriaschildren.org
*TO REPORT SUSPECTED CHILD ABUSE CALL 703-746-5800 or 1-800-552-7096.



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