(COLORADO SPRINGS) — November marks the one-year milestone of the opening of Colorado’s first and only co-located children’s advocacy center (CAC). Safe Passage in Colorado Springs provides a safe place for children who have experienced abuse and neglect.

“They’re coming to a place that really can serve them and let them know that what happened, it wasn’t their fault,” said Emily Bowker, director of development at Safe Passage CAC.

Safe Passage is the only of its kind in Colorado, but there are also only 20% co-located facilities nationwide.

“It means that we are working day-to-day with partner agencies to investigate child abuse cases and really do the best we can for the children and families,” Bowker said.

For one, Bowker said they can more easily streamline their efforts.

“We’re in one place, we can really, you know, service the cases more efficiently, collaborate, collaborate better, and that families can come to a really child-friendly place,” she said.

This makes it easier on the kids who can get everything they need all in one place.

“We have everything at one location,” said forensic nurse for UCHealth, Wendy Stone. “And our exam room and our waiting areas are all focused on kids. And it’s a really great place.”

Since they began this new co-location facility, they said they have already been able to assist more families, and have seen an increase of 27%.

“Sometimes that’s hard for people to hear, however once kids are able access to a children’s advocacy center, they’re going to have better outcomes in regard to being able to access mental health care and medical care,” Bowker said.

On Saturday, Nov.5, Safe Passage is inviting the community to participate in clay shooting at the Pikes Peak Gun Club for some fundraising. They said they will also be accepting donations for their playroom.

Since the Fall of 2017, it’s been the vision of Safe Passage to have a co-location facility. Even though it’s been a long time coming, the organization said they’re proud of their community for pulling it off.

“It really says a lot about communities when they’re able to come together,” Bowker said. “And so, we’ve been proud to say that El Paso County and Teller County are ready for that. Just looking at all the agencies that are here and knowing that we’re all here to put kids first.”