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What is a Child Advocacy Center?

A Child Advocacy Center (CAC), like The Center for Safe & Healthy Children, is a safe place for children to share their story in their own words with a team of experts who will listen to them, protect them, and help them heal.

Without a CAC, the child may end up having to tell the worst story of his or her life over and over again — to doctors, police, lawyers, therapists, investigators, judges, and others. They may have to talk about that traumatic experience in a police station where they think they might be in trouble. Or they may be asked the wrong questions by a well-meaning teacher that could hurt the case against the abuser.

When police or child protective services believe a child is being abused, the child is brought to the CAC - a safe, child-focused environment - by a caregiver or other “safe” adult. At the CAC, the child tells their story once to a trained interviewer who knows the right questions to ask in a way that does not re-traumatize the child. Then, a team that includes medical professionals, law enforcement, mental health, prosecution, child protective services, victim advocacy, and others make decisions together about how to help the child based on the interview.

CACs offer therapy and medical exams, plus courtroom preparation, victim advocacy, case management, and other services. This is called the multidisciplinary team (MDT) response and is a core part of the work of CACs. 


The Center for Safe & Healthy Children

The Child Advocacy Center for Hancock County

Our Mission

The Center's mission to minimize the trauma experienced by child abuse victims by providing a safe, caring facility as well as a multidisciplinary response through prevention, intervention, and advocacy.

Our History

In 2004 various members of the Hancock County law enforcement community recognized that the current child abuse investigation procedures were ineffective. Victims were interviewed at school or at the police station with numerous people present, making the disclosure difficult and uncomfortable for the victim.

As a result, a multidisciplinary team was founded to create a county-wide abuse protocol. In 2006, The Center for Safe & Healthy Children opened its doors.

In 2010, the Center moved to downtown Findlay and then again to Chapel Drive behind Blanchard Valley Hospital in 2012. The Center moved to its current location on Merriweather Drive in 2019.

Today, the Center works with prosecutors, doctors and counselors to help children who have been victimized, and is involved in community engagement programs discussing child abuse and human trafficking.

Our Staff

We have a dedicated and caring staff who ensure that each child and their family receives the best treatment possible.

Ryan Fausnaugh

Executive Director

Ryan Fausnaugh serves as the Executive Director at The Center for Safe & Healthy Children.  In this role, he supervises the day-to-day operations, he collaborates with partner agencies, and he participates in our community’s Domestic Violence Task Force and Human Trafficking Coalition.  He also served as a Board Member for the Ohio Network of Child Advocacy Centers (ONCAC).

Ryan has a bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in Criminal Justice both from Tiffin University.

In his free time, Ryan enjoys spending time with his wife and two children.

Heidi Mercer

Family Advocate

Heidi Mercer, MSSA, LISW-S serves as the Family Advocate brings a caring and knowledgeable approach in supporting the children and families utilizing The Center. 


Heidi has a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Findlay and a Master’s degree in Social Work from Case Western Reserve University.  Heidi worked within the child welfare system in East Sussex.  For four years, Heidi was a part of a multi-disciplinary team that focused solely on assessing and intervening in child sexual abuse cases.  Upon moving back to the area in 2016, Heidi worked in victim services and supported children and adult survivors of sex and labor trafficking.  She was also an assistant professor within the social work program at Bluffton University.


In her free time, Heidi enjoys spending time with her two children and two dogs, traveling, gardening, reading, and taking an art or yoga class.

Laura Green

Community Outreach & Event Coordinator

Laura Green serves as The Center’s Community Outreach & Event Coordinator.  She works to organize fundraisers and community events, to send out annual newsletters, and to update social media accounts.

Laura has a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communication and Public Relations from Otterbein University and a Master’s degree in Higher Education from Tiffin University.

In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, and binge watching her favorite TV shows.


Our Board Members

The Board of Directors, which consists of representatives from local businesses, human service, government, and community agencies, provides leadership and direction for The Center.

Jason Seem
Justin Hendren
Suzanne Hoffman
Katie Greene
Liz Sabel
Patti Jones
Dr. Mark Kirk
Nikki Matheny
Dr. Suzie Grace
Kari Redman
James Slough
Precia Stuby
Kim Cosiano

Holly Schweitzer Dunn
Tonya Wittenmyer

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