About the Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County

In 2003, a group of concerned citizens spear-headed a task force made up of representatives from local child-serving agencies in order to address the lack of a coordinated response to investigations into child abuse in Aiken County. All too often, children with the courage to talk about the abuse they had experienced were expected to undergo repeated questioning about the most traumatic event in their lives. Many times they had to tell their story in places that were not child-friendly and were interviewed by persons who were not trained to talk with children.  The CAC of Aiken was established to ensure that all the services a child and family needs (medical examinations, forensic interviewing, advocacy support) could occur in one location – a safe, nurturing, child-friendly environment, at no cost to a child’s family.

Since opening with one staff member in 2003, The CAC of Aiken has experienced significant program growth and now employs 7 professionals with wide ranging expertise. The incredible support and generosity of community stakeholders have helped the center achieve great things during its brief history:

  • 2003 – 11 agency task force signed its first Multidisciplinary Agreement. The staff of one began conducting forensic interviews with children.
  • 2004 – Obtained its 501-c-3 and began a capital campaign to build a permanent building
  • 2006 – Expanded its reach to include surrounding counties and established a Multidisciplinary Team in Barnwell County
  • 2008 – Ribbon cutting for its new building (and current location) on Trolley Line Rd. in Aiken
  • 2008 – Obtained National Accreditation through the National Children’s Alliance
  • 2010 – began prevention education and began conducting Stewards of Children Trainings, educating over 200 adults every year.
  • 2015 – Added a Child Advocate to staff in order to provide non-offending caregivers emotional support and information about community resources.
  • 2019 – Increased capacity to conduct Forensic Interviews by adding an additional Forensic Interviewer/Therapist to its staff. Conducted a record number of forensic interviews (509).
  • 2020 – Increased its capacity to keep up with the demand for Medicals by adding an additional medical provider.

Without a CAC

To understand what a Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) is, you must understand what children face without one. Without a CAC, the child may end up having to tell about the worst thing that has happened in his or her life over and over again, to doctors, police officers, lawyers, therapists, investigators, judges, and others. They may have to talk about that traumatic experience in a police station where they think they might be in trouble or may be asked the wrong questions by a well-meaning teacher or other adult that could hurt the case against the abuser.

With a CAC

When police or child protective services (SC Dept. of Social Services) believe a child is being abused, the child is brought to the CAC—a safe, child-focused environment—by a caregiver or other “safe” adult. At the CAC, the child tells their story one time to a trained interviewer who knows the right questions to ask in a way that does not retraumatize the child. Then, a team that includes medical professionals, law enforcement, mental health, solicitor’s office, child protective services, victim advocacy, and other professionals make decisions together about how to best help the child and their family. CAC’s offer trauma-focused therapy and medical exams, victim advocacy, case management, and other services. This is called the multidisciplinary team (MDT) response and is a core part of the work of CAC’s do in South Carolina.

Child Advocacy Center Advantages

  • Reduces the number of interviews a child victim must endure, which reduces the trauma to the child.
  • Creates a comfortable, child-friendly environment for the investigation as opposed to the environment typically experienced in a hospital emergency room or police station.
  • Reduces law enforcements and social services investigative time.
  • Enables quicker prosecutions through more efficient case processing.
  • Increases communication between agencies for an improved understanding of their roles and case need.

How Does the CAC Model Work?

The Child Advocacy Center of Aiken is built on the belief that no one agency or professional can solve the problem of child abuse alone. Child Advocacy Centers are community based, and the CAC of Aiken would not be possible without the commitment of many community partners.

To avoid the costly duplication of services and to build upon existing expertise, The CAC of Aiken’s multidisciplinary partners include: 

Prosecution
Family Advocacy
Protective Services
Law Enforcement
Mental Health
Forensic Interview
Medical
Education

Learn more about our team approach

The Executive Director

Maryann Burgess
Executive Director

Mrs. Maryann Burgess is the Executive Director of the Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County. In this role, Director Burgess leads the Center in the coordination of investigations, treatment, and prosecution of the most serious cases of child abuse in Aiken and its surrounding counties.

 

Before her time at the CAC of Aiken County, Burgess led a successful career as a thirty-year law enforcement officer and firefighter, most of that time serving as the managing Captain of Aiken Department of Public Safety’s Youth Services Division.

 

In addition to her role as executive director, Director Burgess serves as the chair of the Second Judicial Curcuit Human Trafficking Task Force in South Carolina. In this position, Burgess plays a vital role in addressing the crime of human trafficking in South Carolina in collaboration with federal, state, and local agencies.

 

Burgess holds a Basic Law Enforcement Certification focused in Criminal Justice and Police Science from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Sociology with a concentration in Criminology from the University of South Carolina Aiken.

The Staff

Logan C. Ford, PACE, CBOM
Office Manager

Mr. Logan C. Ford, an experienced administrative professional and consultant, is the Office Manager for the Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County.

 

Ford holds the Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence (PACE) from the American Society of Administrative Professionals and the Certified Business Office Manager (CBOM) certification from the Management and Strategy Institute.

Charlotte Collis, MSW
Forensic Interviewer | Therapist

Ms. Charlotte Collis, an experienced mental health counselor and trauma clinician, is a forensic interviewer and therapist with the Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County.

 

Collis holds a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree with a concentration in trauma from Simmons University and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Sociology with a specialization in immigration and assimilation from Villanova University.

Nikki Major, MS
Forensic Interviewer | Therapist

Ms. Nikki Major is a forensic interviewer and therapist with the Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County.

 

Major holds a Master of Science (MS) degree in Applied Clinical Psychology and a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Psychology with a minor in Biomedical Science from the University of South Carolina Aiken. Major is trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) from the Medical University of South Carolina and is also pursuing Victim Service Provider (VSP) certification through the South Carolina Attorney Generals Office. 

Anya Moody, MS, VSP
Family Advocacy Coordinator | Forensic Interviewer | MULTI-DISCIPLINARY TEAM COORDINATOR

Ms. Anya Moody, an experienced practitioner and supervisor in behavioral therapy, serves as MDT coordinator, family advocacy coordinator, and a forensic interviewer with the Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County.

 

Moody holds a Master of Science (MS) degree in clinical psychology and a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in psychology with an emphasis in child development from California Lutheran University, located in Thousand Oaks, California. Moody is trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) from the Medical University of South Carolina and is also a certified Victim Service Provider (VSP) through the South Carolina Attorney Generals Office. 

Parent Project Instructors

Jason Payne, MPA, MS, PMP®
Certified Parent Project® Facilitator

DOMINIQUE SIMPKINS
Certified Parent Project® Facilitator

Medical Care Partners

Kathryn (Katie) Stephenson, MD
Interim Director, Child Abuse Pediatrics

Prisma Health Children’s Hospital in the Midlands

LaDonna (ALEX) Young, MD
Child Abuse Pediatrician

Prisma Health Children’s Hospital in the Midlands

Jennifer L. Sabo, MD
Child Abuse Pediatrician

Prisma Health Children’s Hospital in the Midlands

Stephanie L. Schaller, DNP, PPCNP
NURSE PRACTITIONER

Prisma Health Children’s Hospital in the Midlands

Sarah E. Wilson, MSN, APRN, PPCNP, CPNP-PC
NURSE PRACTITIONER

Prisma Health Children’s Hospital in the Midlands

Grace Barnett, CTRS
CHILD LIFE SPECIALIST

Prisma Health Children’s Hospital in the Midlands

The incoming Board of Directors

Executive Committee

DR. thayer mcgahee
Chair

Dr. Kathy Harris
Vice Chair

Kent Williams
Treasurer

Lindsay Griswold
Vice Treasurer

LaLita Ashley
Secretary

Debbie Eblen
Past Chair

BOARD MEMBERS

Dr. Judy Beck

Lynnette Brumfield

Cyndi Catts

Jeff Powell

Penny Rue

Dr. Liz Stewart

Employment

Thank you for your interest in becoming a part of the team at The Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County.

The CAC of Aiken is an Equal Opportunity Employer committed to inclusive hiring and dedicated to diversity in its work and staff. Employment decisions at our agency are made without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sex, national origin, disability status, age, sexual orientation, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by applicable state or federal law.

Current Openings:

No current openings.

Internships

Thank you for your interest in becoming an intern with our organization. If you are interested in becoming one of our interns, please complete the attached application and email it along with your resume to mburgess@cacofaiken.org.

Intern Application + Description

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