Mission and History

Mission

To improve the quality of services for survivors of sexual assault and human trafficking , to assist in their recovery and to work towards the elimination of sexual violence.

In an effort to fulfill this mission, the Kankakee County Center Against Sexual Assault provides public education and professional training in the area of sexual assault and human trafficking, counseling and psychological support to adult and child survivors and their significant others, assistance throughout the medical and criminal justice process, 24-hour telephone and in-person response, and partnership with community agencies to improve response to crimes of sexual violence.

History

Kankakee County Center Against Sexual Assault (KCCASA) originated in September 1987, after a Police Social Worker identified a need in the community. It was recognized that there was an increasing number of sexual assault victims coming forward and that they had to travel 30 miles to the nearest rape crisis center for services.

Representatives from several social service groups held an organizational meeting to form an agency that would provide services to victims of sexual assault throughout Kankakee County. The police social worker worked with an established rape crisis center in Olympia Fields to develop the initial program in Kankakee, known as YW-CASA (Young Women’s Center Against Sexual Assault). The initial program provided office space and a hotline.

In November 1987, the Center became an independent, non-profit organization and incorporated under the name Kankakee County Center Against Sexual Assault (KCCASA), changing the name to better reflect the population served. Services were then expanded to include counseling, advocacy, community education and professional training. In 1988, KCCASA became a member of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA) and became one of 33 rape crisis centers in the State of Illinois to provide comprehensive services to sexual assault victims.

In 1991, KCCASA initiated a Children’s Services Program to address the significant increase in sexual abuse cases involving children. In 1993, KCCASA developed an organized program to provide public education to churches, schools, and community groups to increase public awareness and knowledge about sexual violence issues. In 1994, the community education program expanded to a full-time program, to include prevention education for children pre-school through college. In 1995, the advocacy program was expanded, specifically focusing on victim sensitivity in the medical system. In 1996, the counseling program expanded to provide therapy to victims of sexual violence who are incarcerated in the Dwight and Kankakee Correctional Centers. In 1997, KCCASA expanded the education program and developed a collaborative partnership with police, state’s attorneys, advocates and medical personnel in Kankakee County to become the model site for the State of Illinois, for utilizing an interdisciplinary approach to sex crimes investigations. In 1998, counseling services were expanded through an outreach office in Hopkins Park as well as including an additional prison, Westside Correctional Center.

In 1999, efforts focused on initiating sexual assault services in Iroquois County (ISAS) and helping to establish the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (S.A.N.E.) program in the State of Illinois. In 2000, counseling for victims of sexual violence who are incarcerated was discontinued and a more in-depth focus was aimed at the services within Kankakee and Iroquois counties. In 2001, outreach-counseling programs were initiated at a nursing home and a residential substance abuse center. In 2002, KCCASA + ISAS celebrated its 15th anniversary. To improve identity recognition and awareness of the services available, a return to using a portion of the center’s full name, instead of the acronym (KCCASA) was initiated. We re-established our identity as The Center Against Sexual Assault and began using “The Center” as the shortened version. New initiatives were implemented and new partnerships were established to expand awareness and provide services to more people.

In 1999, services were expanded to include Iroquois County in response to increasing requests for services in that area. The Executive Director and Assistant Director of KCCASA, along with Iroquois County professionals formed an advisory board and named the outreach organization Iroquois Sexual Assault Services (ISAS). A local office was obtained to house an advocate and a counselor. The demand for services has steadily increased since the inception of the agency and ISAS  continues to offer comprehensive services to the citizens of Iroquois County in their own area.

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