Center for Child Protection

In 2014 a Travis County nonprofit celebrates its 25th year of helping to assist children who have been physically or sexually abused.

When a child is the suspected victim of abuse or is a witness to a violent crime such as homicide in Travis County, they are referred to the Center for Child Protection for a forensic interview. There they also can receive free services such as medical exams, court orientation, parent coaching, referrals for psychiatric services, protective parenting groups, emergency funding, crisis intervention, and individual and family therapy. Executive Director Michael Torres said the center hopes to provide healing for the families it sees.

"I'd like to use the word 'healing,' but when you've been victimized in that way, it's not something that you ever forget, nor really should you," he said. "But what we try to accomplish is not having that victimization identify who they are. To a certain degree, it becomes a sacred wound for them and something that becomes a part of their life but not ultimately who they are. Healing it's different for every family."

Families are referred by law enforcement or Child Protective Services to CCP, which collaborates with police departments including Austin, Austin ISD, Bee Cave, Cedar Park, Lakeway, West Lake Hills as well as the Travis County Sheriff's Office to help conduct suspected abuse investigations involving children. The nonprofit aims to lessen the trauma that can be associated with abuse investigations and only interviews children once for official police statements. Torres said it is common for children to feel intimidated by the presence of a police officer, so CCP's forensic interviewers record the interview for police records. The average interview is about 45 minutes, depending on the situation and the child, he said.

"It takes a tremendous amount of courage, I think, for those children to outcry," he said. "We're trying to heal them the best that we can."

After the interview many families come back to the center for healing aids. In addition to talk therapy, the nonprofit uses other forms of therapies and tactile activities to help children and families cope with trauma.

"We also discovered that it was not enough just to intervene on behalf of these children," he said. "If we were really going to break the cycle of abuse, we needed to try to heal their spirits."

Director of Program Services Amanda Van Hoozer said through art, ropes courses or pet therapy, it can be easier for counselors to understand someone's struggle. She said pet therapy is effective because it provides a distraction for people who may be shy, embarrassed or ashamed.

"[Animals] are nonjudgmental, they give you something to do because you're petting them," she said. "Four-legged creatures seem to be able to [provide] things that we as adults can't do, especially with kids."

Staffers also give children anatomically correct dolls and drawing pads to demonstrate their abusive experience, some of which is used as evidence in court cases. CCP raised $9.2 million in donations to help build its facility on FM 969 in Austin and has been used by the FBI, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and officials from the Attorney General's office for investigations.

Torres said the organization will continue to push for abuse prevention and education.

"I tell people all the time when I speak to the community that I would love to be unemployed, I really would."

How to report abuse

Most abused children do not talk about their abuse or tell anyone what is happening, according to CCP. If you suspect abuse has occurred:

  • Call the abuse hotline at 1-800-252-5400.

  • Report it online at

  • In a life-threatening emergency, dial 9-1-1 or contact local law enforcement immediately.

Some signs of abuse include:

Source: Center for Child Protection

  • An abused child or teenager may develop new fears of situations, places or people.

  • If a child or teen is not allowed or able to express anger toward the abuser, they may take their anger out on others or themselves.

  • A child or teen might have problems sleeping, have nightmares, or experience a sudden loss or gain in appetite.

  • A child or teen might feel guilt and shame from being abused, which can cause them to hurt themselves.

Center for Child Protection, 8509 FM 969, Bldg. 2, Austin, 512-472-1164,

By Lyndsey Taylor
After graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Lyndsey began working as a reporter for the Northwest Austin edition of Community Impact Newspaper in 2012. During her time as a reporter, she has covered Round Rock ISD, health care in the Austin metro area and Austin Community College. She was promoted to editor of the Cedar Park| Leander edition in 2015 and covers city and education news, including Leander ISD.


West Austin's Lions Municipal Golf Course was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016 due to its significance in the civil rights movement as the first Southern golf course to desegregate. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austinites share their hopes for Muny golf course's future

The Lions Municipal Golf Course is part of a University of Texas-owned property that may be rezoned by the city of Austin over the coming months.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced a special legislative session will begin July 8. (Trent Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Gov. Greg Abbott announces special legislative session to start July 8

Agenda items will be announced before the session begins, according to a release from the governor's office.

The Lakeway City Council on June 21 considered several housing development proposals within or adjacent to the city limits. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Proposal to build homes near Lakeway's Clubhouse Drive on hold

Residents pushed back on an idea to build 17 homes in Lakeway's extraterritorial jurisdiction.

Bee Cave Orthodontics celebrated five years in business. (Courtesy Bee Cave Orthodontics)
Bee Cave Orthodontics celebrates anniversary, Poke House opens in West Lake Hills and more business news

Here is the most recent business news from the Lake Travis-Westlake area.

Lakeway City Council reported the presence of surveillance cameras in Rough Hollow during the June 21 council meeting. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Rough Hollow surveillance cameras to be removed from Lakeway city streets

Council members report agreement to install equipment not approved by official city action

The Lions Municipal Golf Course is part of one of four University of Texas-owned properties that could move through Austin's rezoning process over the coming months. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Public feedback process now open for rezoning of 4 UT-owned properties, including West Austin's Muny golf course

An initial public engagement session covering the Brackenridge tracts, where Muny is located, will be held June 21.

Buzzfest took place Dec. 17-19 and was open and free to the public. (Courtesy CODAworx)
Bee Cave light installation event nominated for international design award

Buzzfest, a light instlattion festival held in December, has been nominated for an international design award. Public voting to select a winner will be open until June 30.

Leander ISD names Rouse principal as area superintendent replacement

Christine Simpson became Rouse High School's principal in 2016 and will start as an area superintendent this summer.

The Office of Police Oversight released its first comprehensive report detailing its operations though 2019 and 2020 this June. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Office of Police Oversight report finds complaints against Austin police officers went up, but discipline fell in 2020

The new report centers on the office's three main functions, including tracking APD officer discipline, reviewing the city's police policies, and engaging with Austin residents.

Volunteers of Austin Vaccine Angels gathered after becoming fully vaccinated. (Courtesy Jodi Holzband)
Grassroots groups aimed at vaccine outreach look toward the future

For the past five months, grassroots volunteer groups have been working to connect thousands of Central Texans to COVID-19 vaccines.

Rollingwood City Council discussed measures to offset Zilker Park traffic during a June 16 meeting. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)
Rollingwood to install barrier to reduce Zilker Park traffic through city streets

The city will install barriers at peak times from Friday evening to Monday morning to reduce cut-through traffic.

Leander ISD admin building
Leander ISD board passes $387M budget with 2% raises, new campus staffing

The budget includes 2% midpoint staff raises, campus positions for Tarvin Elementary opening in August, start-up positions for Elementary School No. 29 opening in 2022 and other district expenditures.