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Members of the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting at the Rock Island Children's Advocacy Center Thursday. At center, Children's Advocacy Center Executive Director Marcy O'Brien prepares to cut the ribbon.

A grant has allowed the Rock Island County Children's Advocacy Center to offer therapy at no cost to children experiencing trauma.

The agency works with law enforcement, the Department of Children and Family Services and the state's attorney's office to investigate child abuse crimes and assist the children involved.

Dr. Olivia Grant, a trauma-focused psychologist, assists children after the interview process. Interviews are conducted in a soundproof room protected by security cameras, but made as friendly and non-threatening as possible. Law-enforcement officers, a representative of the Department of Children and Family Services and a state's attorney observe the interview, and a tape of it is sent to police.

Executive Director Marcy O'Brien said many people they work with are in "trauma-mode," and it's hard to remember to go to counseling or keep an appointment.

"What we found is actually our parents are actually more traumatized than the kids. So the parents also receive counseling so they can deal with what happened to their child," she said.

Grant, who has been with the Advocacy Center since July 2018, said research shows her work, referred to as "trauma-focused cognitive behavior therapy," is shown to be most effective for children ages 3 to 18 who have experienced some form of abuse.

"We start with stabilizing our client, and then we move into discussing our trauma narratives, and after discussing that trauma narrative, we kind of close down, consolidate. We talk about body safety, body education."

The therapy helps children feel protected and gives them words and skills to remove themselves from situations in the future, Grant said. 

Speaking before a Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting Thursday, Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms praised the work of the agencies that come together to help youths in crisis.

"They're 100 percent of our future, and we need to make sure that they get the right start in life, and it's places like this that help that," Thoms said, noting his daughter works at the Child Abuse Council. "So it does relate close to my household as far as some of the things kids go through at an early age, in their case, and try to prevent it." 

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