Marta, a recent Safe from the Start client, overcame immense challenges to rebuild her life and create a safe environment for herself and her child.


Marta's journey began when she and her family were referred to CAC by the police after witnessing a traumatic incident. Marta courageously disclosed the domestic violence she endured at the hands of her husband. The situation escalated to the point where she needed an order of protection to ensure her safety.


For years, Marta silently endured the abuse, driven by her desire to keep her family intact. As a stay-at-home mom without a driver's license and economic dependence, she faced tremendous barriers in seeking help and finding a way out of her situation. However, the order of protection marked a turning point in her life.


With therapy and support from the Children's Advocacy Center, Marta embarked on a journey of empowerment and healing. Our therapist helped her understand the manipulation tactics employed by her husband to isolate her from her loved ones. Together, they focused on domestic violence education, providing her with the knowledge and tools to break free from the cycle of abuse.

Additionally, Marta worked on developing coping skills and rebuilding her self-esteem, which had been deeply affected by the years of domestic violence. Step by step, she gained the confidence to take control of her life and make positive changes.


One pivotal moment came when Marta hesitantly reached out to a relative whom she hadn't spoken to in years. She was met with open arms and a safe place to live. This support system gave her the strength and stability she needed to move forward.


She decided to pursue her driver's license, which then allowed her to actively search for employment. Marta secured a job and became self-sustaining, providing a stable future for herself and her child.


Marta's story is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of community support. It demonstrates how, with the right resources and guidance, survivors of domestic violence can reclaim their lives and build a brighter future.


At the Children's Advocacy Center, we are committed to providing a safe space for individuals like Marta. Together, let us continue our mission to advocate for and support those who have experienced abuse, ensuring that every child and family can thrive in a violence-free environment. 

This month we're shining a spotlight on Brianna Kness, CAC's MDT Coordinator. As the MDT Coordinator, Bri works with families and members of the multidisciplinary team (MDT) to schedule forensic interview appointments in a trauma-informed and timely manner. This includes receiving intake information from law enforcement and DCFS and being the first point of contact for families who visit the CAC.

Additionally, Bri hosts the Multidisciplinary Case Review (MDCR). During MDCR, Bri leads CAC staff and MDT members in an intentional and conscientious conversation. Discussion topics include what forms of trauma are at play in specific cases, how MDT members can better assist families in the future, and how particular cases impacted center staff and the MDT. Each month Bri fosters a comfortable and welcoming space for MDT to share personal experiences involving cases. When speaking with MDT members on the phone, Bri is professional and personable and continuously keeps the child’s best interest in mind when scheduling appointments. When assisting families on the phone, Bri discusses what the appointment will look like in detail to ensure caregivers and children feel comfortable upon arriving at their interview.


Recently, a referral came to the CAC for two children needing forensic interviews after witnessing a domestic violence-related incident in their home. These two children only spoke Russian. Bri utilized Language Line to speak to the caregiver and ensure their level of understanding so that the caregiver could understand the purpose of the forensic interview appointment and how the caregiver could rest easy knowing that interpretation services would be provided for the family. While it took many attempts to provide the caregiver and children with an interpreter for their time at the center, Bri worked persistently to provide this family with the services they needed. With Bri’s care and compassion, this caregiver felt secure in bringing her children to our center. Bri’s attentiveness and transparency with caregivers allow them to feel supported during difficult times. Without Bri and her intentional hard work, many families like this one would not feel comfortable coming to the Children’s Advocacy Center.


Thank you, Bri, for all you do for CAC, the MDT, our staff, and our families. The CAC team cannot begin to thank you enough for your kind spirit, hardworking nature, and dedication to providing the best quality services to our local community. 

MDT Meet-up and Resiliency Training

On June 20th the Forensic & Advocacy Services (FAS) team hosted the Multidisciplinary Team Meetup at Arlington Heights Police Department. This was an opportunity for MDT members to meet one another, hear from Dr. Mike Tavolacci, a retired police officer turned trauma therapist, learn from the team at Advocate Children’s Hospital, and stay up to date on the Children’s Advocacy Center Cook County Protocol.

Thank you to our MDT members who attended this event! 

A big shout-out to our dedicated interns who went above and beyond by representing CAC at community events in Palatine and Schaumburg last month!

Melanie Pignotti, CEO, and Taylor Kanara, Director of Development, attended the Rotary Club of Schaumburg-Hoffman Estates' Project Selection luncheon on June 9. The Rotary Club of Schaumburg-Hoffman Estates will generously support CAC's mental health services this year. We're truly grateful for this continued partnership!

Thank you State Representative Kevin Olickal for meeting with Melanie Pignotti, CEO, touring our Skokie office, and learning about our vital work in protecting and advocating for the well-being of children in our community. Your commitment to our cause is truly appreciated. Together, we can continue making a difference in the lives of vulnerable children.

As my last two-year term as Board Chairperson ends, I reflect on the last challenging but rewarding four years leading the Board of Directors of the Children’s Advocacy Center of North and Northwest Cook County.

I have been encouraged by the enthusiasm of our board members in maintaining the mission of our CAC as we navigated through some very difficult times. First, we accepted the resignation of our Development Director and subsequently hired her replacement. One year later, the Covid pandemic decimated our routine office procedures, reduced the number of mandatory reporters as schools closed, reduced the number of child abuse cases, and thereby reduced reimbursements from DCFS. Fortunately, with advanced knowledge from bankers on our board, we applied early for PPP loans which enabled us to maintain staffing throughout the pandemic.....

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Please join us in congratulating our Board of Directors' new slate of Executive Officers. We look forward to the diverse expertise and commitment they each bring to CAC!

Board Chair/President: Roy Picciuca

Vice President: Eduardo Cisneros

Fund Development: Jeff Foreman, MD

Board Development: Bob Tucker

Secretary: Gretchen Peters

Treasurer: Pooja Bansal

Thank you to everyone who attended, sponsored, volunteered at, and supported this year's Champions for Children 5K! Together we raised over $15,000, had 165 participants, and over 40 volunteers! Shoutout to the Hoffman Estates Police Department for your hard work helping us plan this successful event!

View Event Photos

Thank you for joining us on July 13 for Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod's Mayors Monarch Pledge Day proclamation reading. We also celebrated the 7th Birthday of our Butterfly Healing Garden and learned about the preservation of the beautiful Monarch. Special thanks to the members of the Rotary Club of Schaumburg-Hoffman Estates for continuing to maintain the beauty of the garden for all to enjoy!

Save the Date - Golf Outing

Date: Wednesday, October 4 

Location: Bridges of Poplar Creek, Hoffman Estates

Shotgun Start: 11:00 AM 

Cost: $200/golfer 


Registration includes:  

  • 18 holes with a cart, all games (excluding "Beat the Pro"), a small bucket of range balls, and a golfer welcome bag
  • “On the Course” Lunch
  • Awards ceremony after the tournament  
  • Drinks and hors d'oeuvres during social hour post-tournament

Sponsorships and Vendor Opportunities Available. Email Megan Younker for more information.

Register today!
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Volume 41| July 2023