Will County’s new Children’s Advocacy Center built to help kids feel safe

‘This is the way it should be,’ State’s Attorney Glasgow says

Will County Children's Advocacy Center in Crest Hill shows off its new space during an open house on April 8, 2024.

The Will County Children’s Advocacy Center on Monday celebrated the opening of its new offices in a former preschool that provides more room and “softer” accommodations for children victims of crime.

“This is the way it should be,” Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, who started the local Children’s Advocacy Center in 1995, said of the new accommodations located at 1206 Cedarwood Drive in Crest Hill. “These children are so vulnerable.”

The Will County Children’s Advocacy Center conducts more than 700 interviews a year with children who may have been victims of sexual abuse or violence.

The purpose of the center is to provide a setting in which children will feel free to talk about what has happened to them.

“Some of the children who are victims of these crimes don’t come forward because of shame or because of fear,” Glasgow said.

Will County State's Attorney, and Founder of the Will County Children's Advocacy Center, James W. Glasgow, presents Will County Executive, Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant with an award during the ribbon cutting and open house on April 8, 2024.

The Children’s Advocacy Center tries to provide a place where children not only can talk about their experience but begin to recover from what happened.

The new building helps make that possible if for no other reason than it has a lot of windows.

The Will County Children’s Advocacy Center’s last location in downtown Joliet had “four skinny windows” in the entry area and no windows anywhere else, said Assistant Director Jaclyn Lundquist.

The new building has windows everywhere, with the exception of interview rooms for the sake of privacy, creating what Lundquist called a “softer” atmosphere in which to talk with children about traumatic experiences.

Even the interview rooms are equipped with sound walls painted with beach scenes or other friendly settings.

Will County Children's Advocacy Center, Assistant Director/Forensic Interviewer, Jaclyn Lundquist poses for a photo outside the new building on April 8, 2024.

“They don’t give that feel of being interrogations,” Lundquist said.

The new location is nearly four times the size of the former Children’s Advocacy Center building, providing much needed space, according to Lundquist.

Advocacy center workers previously working out of cubicles at times would have to retreat to their cars to make cellphone calls to discuss confidential matters, Lundquist said.

“When we talked about confidential matters on the phone, it was terrible,” she said.

Now those therapists and other employees have private offices where they can close doors and make confidential calls.

The Will County Children’s Advocacy Center ribbon-cutting ceremony drew a crowd that appeared to be well over 200, indicating the degree of support for the cause.

“We have so many more than we ever thought would come, so we’re very appreciative,” Children’s Advocacy Center Executive Director Lisa Morel Las told the crowd at the ceremony.

Las said Glasgow “worked tirelessly since 1995 to make this a real thing.”

Supporters expressed both their regrets that the services were necessary and their appreciation that they are available.

“Unfortunately, we have had to use the Children’s Advocacy Center much more than we should have had to,” Crest Hill Mayor Ray Soliman said. “But I can tell you that they are a top-notch organization.”

Soliman noted that the building formerly operated as the TLC Learning Center, a privately owned preschool that was forced to close due to the economic hardships of the COVID-19 epidemic.