What is a Children’s Advocacy Center?
A Children’s Advocacy Center, or CAC, is a child-focused center that coordinates the investigation, prosecution, and treatment of child abuse while helping abused children heal.
CACs Help Child Victims Heal
Last year, CACs nationally provided victim services to over 275,000 children. In California CACs and MDTs served at least 9,812 children whose healing was advanced because:
CACs Are Effective
CACs reduce trauma to children and result in increased medical and mental health treatment for children who have been abused.
Increased use of CACs and MDTs has resulted in increased successful prosecution of people who have abused children, as demonstrated in national studies that compare felony prosecution rates in large urban areas.
CACs Save Money
CACs help communities save money. An area that uses a CAC saves on average $1,000 per child abuse case when compared to communities that do not have a CAC
CACs Are Responsible
The National Children’s Alliance uses evidence-based standards that reflect best practice methods to assess CACs for its accreditation program. Currently there are 21 NCA accredited CACs in California.
CACC strongly believes that the combined professional wisdom and skill of the multidisciplinary team approach results in a more complete understanding of case issues. All accredited centers must show that they meet standards in the following areas: Child-appropriate facility; Multidisciplinary team; Organizational capacity; Culturally competent policies and practices; Forensic interviews conducted in an objective, non-duplicative manner; Medical evaluation and treatment; Therapeutic intervention; Victim support/advocacy; Case review and tracking.
By coordinating the response of agencies like law enforcement, child protective services, prosecutors’ offices,advocates, mental health and medical professionals CACs help ensure that when a child discloses abuse, they are not re-victimized by the very systems designed to protect them. CACs help coordinate care and investigation from first report to conviction and beyond, while keeping the child at the center of everything the team does. At its core, the model is about teamwork—bringing the agency professionals involved in a case together on the front end—and about putting the needs of the child victim first. CACs provide an array of compassionate, professional, trauma-informed services to children and their families.