The Children’s Advocacy Center of Laredo has grown to unite a mass of services to educate the community of Webb County on child abuse, and allow the victims of abuse and their families to reconcile in a positive environment.
In 1993, Jose M. Rubio, Jr., Webb County District Attorney, unified a group of Laredoans, all who are associated with children’s services. His focus was to construct a system that would respond to the child abuse cases in a routine that would not continue to traumatize the young victim. His determination provided a unified response that links the diverse agencies that respond to the outcries. Ultimately, this led to eliminating what was at that time countless agencies such as law enforcement, child protective services, school counselors, medical and psychological service providers, from all responding to young victims of abuse. What originated as an informal team soon became, under Webb County District Attorney Rubio’s guidance, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Laredo-Webb County certified as a non-profit organization in 1995.
Crime Victim’s Coordinator Vanessa Ibarra was first introduced to the Children’s Advocacy Center as an intern during her final internship upon completion of her higher education. “I just stuck around after, I love working with children,” declared Vanessa.
She plays a vital role of a figure of support for victims and their families. Vanessa is continuously responsible for finding resources for the victims and families of crime. She also assists the families in accessing community resources such as counseling services, medical attention, and if needed a place to stay. In addition to her many assigned duties, Vanessa whole heartedly engages in active listening and support.
Current developments Vanessa has been operating on include working with Honorable Judge Becky Palomo in launching Kids in Court. This successful program targets and prepares victims of abuse who will be testifying in court. Kids in Court successfully instills confidence in children who may need to testify. Along with this Vanessa expanded efforts to enlighten the community by hosting the 1st Youth S.P.E.A.K. Conference (Students Pursuing Education and Knowledge). The program will allow one hundred 10th grade students the opportunity to learn about cyberbullying, mental health, the law, and dating violence.
On a personal note, The Children’s Advocacy Center of Laredo has opened Vanessa’s life to a lot of new processes. She is now able to understand how to satisfy the needs of open cases so they can be approved and closed. As a strong advocate for her clients, Vanessa is able to keep progressing. She accomplishes this with all the positive feedback from her clients and their families. The positive feedback helped her realize that she is making a difference in their lives.
United Way of Laredo supports The Children’s Advocacy Center of Laredo by providing resources for its’ active projects. United Way allows the agency the privilege to pursue projects freely without the worry and stress of how to fund them. Since its launch, the Children’s Advocacy Center has treated many young victims as well as their peers and non-offending adult family members.