Dunebrook’s legacy as a family resource and Child Advocacy Center began as a grassroots community effort. With rising concern for children’s well-being in LaPorte County, Indiana, a group of professionals representing healthcare, law enforcement, the Prosecutor’s Office and social services, along with community stakeholders, formed the Child Abuse Advisory Team, or C.A.A.T. in the mid-1980’s
C.A.A.T. worked tirelessly to bring awareness to the prevalence of child abuse and neglect and to educate the public in how to respond to concerns for a child’s well-being.
Members of C.A.A.T. travelled to Huntsville, AL to see the National Child Advocacy Center, which designed the child-centered approach to child abuse and neglect investigations. Rather than conducting interviews amidst the hustle and bustle of a police station as had been the practice, C.A.A.T. members saw that the National Child Advocacy Center conducted interviews in a quiet, friendly place with positive outcomes.
Immediately, C.A.A.T. members knew they needed to bring the National Center’s practice to LaPorte County. Through work with the Prosecutor’s Office, a single-family dwelling on Johnson Road in Michigan City was purchased. The name “Dunebrook” speaks to its location on the shores of Lake Michigan’s sand dunes and Trail Creek which flow behind the grounds.
With the help of tradesmen, businesses, community members and Dunebrook’s staff, the single-family dwelling on Johnson Road became the functional, welcoming and friendly place it is today.
Initially established to conduct child forensic interviews outside of police stations, Dunebrook grew to become a leader in direct services for children, parents and families. Today, Dunebrook provides parenting classes, home visitation, child sexual abuse prevention education, forensic interviewing, family advocacy and contracted trauma-informed mental health services. Some services expand beyond LaPorte County to Porter, Starke and Pulaski Counties.
Dunebrook continually looks for opportunities to serve our vision, Every Child: Safe, Healthy, Happy, where missions align with other organizations and partners. Capitalizing on the experience, knowledge and capacity of organizations throughout the region helps us educate and empower child and adults alike in keeping children safe.
The “heart” of Dunebrook is the Child Advocacy Center, called the CAC. Dunebrook’s prevention work aims to keep children from experiencing the trauma and pain of abuse or neglect. When maltreatment does happen, investigators know that they can rely upon Dunebrook to conduct sound, timely and child-friendly forensic interviews using state-of-the-art recording equipment. LaPorte County Sheriff John Boyd once referred to Dunebrook as “the envy of CACs in the Midwest.” This a great tribute to the challenging work of the many individuals who built the Dunebrook you see today.