Adults Working and Advocating for Kids’ Empowerment (AWAKE) is the only children’s advocacy center in Jackson County, North Carolina – serving both Jackson and Swain counties – which coordinates services for victims of child abuse. Tucked away next to the railroad tracks near sleepy downtown Sylva, AWAKE serves children and their non-offending caregivers by providing child medical evaluations for child abuse victims in a supportive, child-friendly environment. The main goal of the child medical evaluation is to ultimately enhance their quality of life. Abuse and neglect cause tremendous trauma within the lives of the children; however, the results of this trauma do not have to have permanent effects. AWAKE works to help children through this most difficult time. In 2022 and 2023, the CCME Foundation provided grants for $50,000 to fund child medical evaluations for abuse victims at AWAKE.  

The AWAKE team uses a multi-disciplinary approach through forensic interviewing, which utilizes a trained professional in gathering recorded information from the child in a child-friendly way to limit the number of times he or she must talk about the abuse itself. Case managers assist families and children through the entire process from the first report of abuse until they decide that they no longer need AWAKE services. Mental health professionals provide trauma-focused therapy to children and their families at no cost. AWAKE also has a support dog staff member who can sit with the children when they are waiting, when in the District Attorney’s office, and while conducting court preparations. In addition, AWAKE provides training about child abuse and neglect and information about the resources available to the community. Lastly, AWAKE funds full medical evaluations. These are designed to first promote healing by giving children agency and ownership over their own bodies and by addressing the psychological and social challenges that come from child abuse and trauma.   

Following the child medical evaluation, the provider will make recommendations to child protective services and law enforcement to ensure the child’s safety. The full evaluations cost over $6500 per month, which ensures full-time medical coverage for victims. The CCME Foundation grant funds were used to cover these medical evaluations for eight months. Following the 2022 grant cycle, Crystal Jones, AWAKE Executive Director stated, “With your help, we were able to provide medical services and forensic interviews to over 156 children.”     

To learn more about this impactful and much needed Children’s Advocacy Center in Western North Carolina, please visit