CA adds CACs to list of MDT Partners
On July 16, 2021, Governor Newsom signed AB 77 (Rubio), a bill that adds Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) to the list of “Child abuse multidisciplinary personnel team” cited in 18961.7 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC). The simple step assists in clarifying information sharing, strengthens counties’ freedom to pick the best CAC structure for their community, and helps to ensure abused children have access to quality services regardless of where they live.
Erin Harper, Executive Director of Children’s Advocacy Centers of California (CACC), stated, “Improving information sharing among the professionals investigating child abuse allegations leads to more effective responses, safer communities, and healthier childhoods. We are thrilled Governor recognized the positive impact of this bill and are grateful for his continued commitment to the well-being of California’s children.”
CACs bring together a multidisciplinary team including law enforcement, child protection, medical personnel, mental health providers, and district attorneys to ensure that any response to an allegation of child abuse is coordinated among these agencies and that the needs of the child stay at the forefront of all investigations.
Despite their critical role in child abuse investigations, CACs were not previously included in the list of agencies explicitly stated in WIC section 18961.7. As a result, the ability of agencies listed in this section to share vital case information with their CAC partners, including those conducting forensic interviews of child abuse victims, was limited to attorneys’ interpretations of this section.
This particularly impacted CACs housed in non-profits (the WIC already included their government-based counterparts) and created inequities based solely on the organizational and financial structure of a CAC, which counties chose. In counties that have chosen to use a non-profit CAC, vital personnel could have been left out of child abuse conversations because of strict interpretations of the law. The lack of information sharing impeded professionals’ ability to share important material fully and effectively investigate child abuse.
CACC applauds California’s latest work to keep the children of the state safe and healthy and looks forward to the continued partnership with Governor Newsom on this critical issue.