Providing Hope and Healing for Abused Children
What is a Children's Advocacy Center?
Children's Advocacy Centers are child-focused, child-friendly facilities where children and their families feel safe enough to get the help they need to stop abuse and begin the process of healing. Representatives from many disciplines meet to discuss and make decisions about investigation, treatment and prosecution of child abuse cases. They also work to prevent further victimization of children.
This multidisciplinary team approach brings together all the professionals and agencies needed to offer comprehensive services; law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, mental health, the medical community and advocacy.
Communities that have developed a Children's Advocacy Center experience many benefits: less trauma to child victims during the investigative process; better communication between professionals; increased access by children and their families to community resources; more immediate follow-up to child abuse reports; more efficient medical and mental health referrals; reduction in the number of child abuse victim interviews; increased number of successful prosecutions; and consistent support for child victims and supportive adults.
This comprehensive approach, with follow-up services provided by the CAC, ensures that children receive child-focused services in a child-friendly environment - one in which the child's needs come first!
Core Components of a Children's Advocacy Center
The National Children's Alliance has established the following standards for Children's Advocacy Centers:
- Child focused, child-friendly facility for children and their non-offending family members
- Multidisciplinary Team approach including law enforcement, prosecution, medical, therapy, advocacy, and other community resources
- Medical evaluation onsite or through referral
- Therapy onsite or through referral
- Onsite forensic interviews
- Case tracking and review
- Case staffing
- Culturally competent services
- Effective organizational capacity