For the Life of a Child
The Child Abuse Prevention Center


The offices of the Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) Center in Sacramento County are in a clean, but low-rent industrial area.  This unpretentious office is managed by a petite, obviously well-educated, but equally unpretentious Sheila Boxley. To the casual observer, these surroundings totally belie the scope and urgency of the critical needs that the CAP center addresses each day. 

Child abuse – physical, sexual or emotional – transcends gender, racial or socio-economic boundaries.  Potential risks are in everyone’s neighborhood.  To combat  the tragedy of child abuse and all its ongoing implications to the individual and society, the CAP Center provides a plethora of services.  Their umbrella of affiliate organizations not only supports the local Sacramento area, but extends throughout California, as well as national and international communities. 

The CAP Center has been in operation for 35 years.  Ms.  Boxley has served as its President and CEO for the last  15 years.  The office is packed with numerous awards for excellence and service.  The Center’s awards are proudly displayed on the walls, whereas Ms. Boxley’s personal achievements (such as a 2012 Woman of the Year award from the California Legislature) are propped on a corner cabinet.  It is obvious that this organization and its dedicated, driving CEO have an ongoing and significant impact on the overwhelming task of keeping every child safe. 

Nearly a half million children in California are reported to child welfare officials annually for suspected abuse or neglect (and we all know there are too many unreported cases).  Children who suffer such abuse have a greatly increased risk for life-long problems with alcohol and drug addiction, depression, violence and health issues, including suicide.  The CAP Center combats these tragic numbers and issues with a vast array of direct services, training, education and public awareness programs. 

The cost of a lost or damaged life due to child abuse is incalculable.   However, hard data can estimate the cost to society to care for the end result.  For example, projected costs to California taxpayers to care for an annual potential of 22,500 cases of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) could add up to $6.75 billion in today’s economy.  The CAP Center implemented a pilot program that reduced the number of SBS cases in Sacramento County in one year by 88%.  These are measurable results that can not and should not be ignored. 

According to the National Center on Disease Control, it takes approximately $1200-$1500 per child, per year, to prevent child abuse and its ramifications, as opposed to an estimated minimum of $124,000 a year to deal with wounded victims who now are involved with our legal and/or health care systems.  As Ms. Boxley simply states, “We know prevention works!”

The CAP Center is part of the United Way California Capital Region (UWCCR) network of partner agencies that provides non-profit services to Sacramento, Amador, Yolo, El Dorado and Placer county residents.  Donations to the CAP Center can be made directly at , or through any UWCCR workplace giving program or the California State Employees Charitable Campaign.  In addition to monetary donations, the CAP Center can use volunteers with office or computer-related skills.  For more information about the Center, its specific programs and training or volunteer opportunities, please contact Kelly Barton at (916) 244-1900.

This story was written by United Way board member and marketing committee member, Terry Myrrdin.


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