Senior VP of operations at the Children's Advocacy Center of Collin County

Twenty years ago, Janetta Michaels answered a newspaper ad from a startup organization in Plano called the Children's Advocacy Center of Collin County. Today, Michaels oversees many of the center's programs that help give a voice to victims of abuse and their families. What began with two staff members in a small building off 15th Street in 1992 is now a partnership made up of local law enforcement, medical personnel, Child Protective Services and the Collin County district attorney's office.

Having been with the organization since the beginning, Michaels has a vision for taking the center to the next chapter by forging ties to local school and churches.

What are your responsibilities at the Children's Advocacy Center of Collin County?

I oversee our staff, which provides the programs and services to our clients, with the exception of our clinical department. [This includes] our community resource department the forensic interview program for children and our client care program. I also oversee the case management program, our medical program, our physical facility [and] training institute.

What is happening now at the CACCC that we should know about?

Our community education program is making a concentrated effort at getting the word out about how to recognize and report [suspected instances of child abuse]. If we can educate people on how to recognize signs of abuse and neglect and give them comfort in their ability to report [it], they can get in front of this issue of child abuse in our community. We are not sitting back and being satisfied with the status quo. We are striving to fill in [the] gaps ... to make sure we're doing what we need [to do] for these kiddos and their nonoffending family members.

What are you most proud of?

For me, it is and will always be Ashley's Laws, which [state] Sen. [Florence] Shapiro [R-Plano] worked with the center staff and partners on back in 1995 as the result of the death of Ashley Estell. Sen. Shapiro pulled together 12 bills that really changed the way Texas punishes and tracks sex offenders. Because of those laws, other states have followed suit.

What's your vision for the future of the CACCC??

Our organization is mature enough to look at what we can do to actually prevent [abuse] from happening. My vision is that we always have trained professionals here to respond to the aftermath, but that we also have a larger presence of primary prevention. Twenty years from now, primary prevention will be a big chunk of what our organization does, and [our efforts at] prevention are truly reducing child abuse in our community.

What are some other new programs you oversee?

Our client care program is geared toward being that constant point of contact for nonoffending family members. [We] stick with them for however long it takes for their case to go from the forensic interview to therapy and all the way through the court system. For an average person, this creates a lot of emotional stress. We want to be there to help guide them through that process.