Who We Are
The Western Regional Children’s Advocacy Center (WRCAC) is managed by the Chadwick Center for Children and Families at Rady Children’s Hospital – San Diego. The Chadwick Center is home to one of the oldest and most resilient multidisciplinary investigative teams in the world; established in 1976, the team has hosted a continuous weekly case review for the past 40 years. The Chadwick Center is a longstanding, accredited member of the National Children’s Alliance, with decades of experience helping establish and expand multi-disciplinary teams and child advocacy centers in the US and abroad.
Funded through the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, WRCAC provides training and technical assistance to professionals involved in the investigation, prosecution, and treatment of child abuse. WRCAC serves existing and developing child advocacy centers, multidisciplinary teams, and communities working to improve their response to child abuse in thirteen western states as follows: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. WRCAC’s efforts are guided by the firm belief that a trauma-informed, coordinated community response that brings investigative and services agencies together in a multi-disciplinary team is the best way to achieve the missions of the respective agencies and, at the same time, best serve the interests of individual child victims.
WRCAC aims to reduce the prevalence and adverse impact of child abuse and neglect, especially child sexual abuse and serious physical abuse, in the western region through expanded and enhanced collaboration of the multiple agencies and disciplines involved in protecting children.
Meet our Team
Charles Wilson, MSSW, Senior Director/Project Director
Since 2000, Charles Wilson has served as Director of the Chadwick Center for Children and Families. He previously served as the Executive Director of the National Children’s Advocacy Center in Huntsville, Alabama, (1995-2000), on the Board of the Alabama Network of CACs, as the Project Director for the Southern Regional Children’s Advocacy Center, and ex officio member of the Board of Directors of NCA (1995-2000). Wilson is also the former President of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) and former member of the Board of Directors of the California Network of CACs for ten years.
Vicky Gwiasda, Program Manager
Vicky Gwiasda has over twenty years of executive leadership experience in public and not-for-profit organizations at the national, state and local levels, with a focus on building safe, healthy and equitable homes and communities. Most recently, Vicky served as the Executive Director of CALICO (2005-2016), the accredited child advocacy center of Alameda County, California, where she led the agency through extensive growth in services, personnel, operations, and fund development. Previously she worked as the Director of Knowledge Enhancement at the Institute for Community Peace based in Washington DC (2002-2005) and as Deputy Director of the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority in Chicago, Illinois (1997-2002).
Juliana Cottrell, MSW, State Liaison
Juliana Cottrell is a skilled social worker who brings fifteen years of experience working with youth and families involved in the juvenile justice and foster care systems. She has worked throughout Alameda County, California in various capacities including foster care ombudsman, forensic child interviewer and juvenile probation officer. For over a decade, she served as part of multi disciplinary teams focused on victims of sex trafficking as well as youth with severe mental health diagnoses. Juliana also has specialized expertise in issues affecting American Indian families and communities.
Tamara Principato, Grant Coordinator
Tamara Principato is an experienced professional in the grant management field. She has managed awards at the national, state and local levels from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse, California Department of Education and California Department of Development Services, to name a few. Previously, she worked at San Diego State University Research Foundation managing a multi-million dollar portfolio comprised of faculty’s research awards. She has also worked with the California State Preschool Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program and Head Start programs at the Chicano Federation of San Diego County.
What We Offer
WRCAC provides the following services to build the capacity of communities and states to respond to child abuse allegations and increase the number of children served through the child advocacy center model:
Local, state and regional trainings for professionals involved in the investigation of and response to child maltreatment, including law enforcement officers, child welfare workers, mental healthcare workers, medical providers, forensic interviewers, victim advocates, agency directors and others.
Customized technical assistance to strengthen existing and emerging child advocacy centers and state chapters of the National Children’s Alliance, with a special focus on tribal communities and those serving American Indian/Alaskan Native children and youth in rural, urban, and tribal jurisdictions.
Collaboration with national partners, including Regional Children’s Advocacy Centers serving the northeast, south and Midwest, the National Children’s Alliance, National Children’s Advocacy Center and Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, to develop and implement best standards of practice and provide coordinated support to the national CAC movement.
Publications and accessible resources for professionals seeking evidence-based practices, protocols and information to guide their work.