Children’s Advocacy Center, MSU Land CDC $ 1.6 Million Grant

October 2, 2021

A new $ 1.6 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will fund a research partnership between two Michigan State University social work professors and work with the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center (TBCAC). Dr. Heather McCauley and Dr. Joanne Smith-Darden of Michigan State University’s School of Social Work are the principal investigators of the four-year project, with the aim of strengthening the evidence base for the prevention of child sexual abuse through to TBCAC’s newest prevention initiative, the Public Will Campaign to End Child Sexual Abuse (PWC).

The CDC has described prevention strategies for some forms of child abuse and sexual violence in their technical briefs, but the evidence base for the prevention of ASC is weak.

The Public Will Campaign addresses the question: How do we mobilize entire communities to promote children’s rights and safety? The campaign combines grassroots outreach methods with media tools to challenge misperceptions and harness shared values. The short-term goals of the public will campaign are to build strong communities and improve attitudes, social norms and behaviors relating to the prevention of child sexual abuse. The long-term goal of the campaign is to end child sexual abuse for generations to come.

“The CDC selection process was very competitive. We are delighted to be one of only three prevention initiatives in the United States selected for rigorous scientific study. How lucky for northern Michigan that we can partner with such an exceptional research team! Said Sue Bolde, executive director of the Public Will Campaign.

McCauley and Smith-Darden will assess the public will campaign guided by three goals: 1) strengthen community cohesion, 2) explore community voice, and 3) inspire community action to prevent child sexual abuse in Michigan . Dr Kai Cortina (University of Michigan), Dr Alan Berkowitz (campaign consultant) and NewFoundry (a Michigan-based multimedia company) will join the community-engaged research team.

Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center is a regional response center to investigate crimes against children in Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Wexford and Grand Traverse Band counties of ‘Ottawa and the Chippewa Indians.


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