About the Children’s Advocacy Center
A CAC is a child focused, facility based program in which representatives from core disciplines collaborate to investigate child abuse reports, conduct forensic interviews, provide referrals/advocacy and assess cases for prosecution. The primary goal of a CAC is to ensure that children are not further victimized by the intervention systems designed to protect them. Our hope is to reduce the number of times a child has to be interviewed regarding their abuse and lessen the trauma the family is experiencing during this difficult time by bringing them to one location where service providers come to them.
The Children’s Advocacy Center of Guernsey County opened its doors in 2006 to provide better services to abused children in our county. Our CAC has been able to bring community providers together in one location for children and their families and provide trauma informed services.
To understand what a Child Advocacy Center (CAC) is, you must understand what children face without one. Without a CAC, children had to tell the worst story of their life over and over again to various individuals and in different locations. The CAC offers a neutral, child focused environment where children can feel safe and supported when disclosing their suspected abuse. The CAC model is so important because the core component is teamwork which results in effective, efficient, and child-centered work.
When our CAC receives a referral from Children Services or Law Enforcement to interview a child regarding concerns with abuse, we schedule the interview with the family and invite the following disciplines: Children Services, Law Enforcement, Mental Health, Victim Advocacy, and Prosecution. Trained CAC staff completes the forensic interview with the child and the interview is recorded. There is an observation room where law enforcement, children services, and prosecution can observe the interview. Typically mental health and victim advocates remain in the waiting area with the family to provide support. The interview is distributed to Law Enforcement and Children Services so they can complete their investigation and provide to the Prosecutor’s Office for review if a suspected crime has occurred. While at the CAC the family can be directly linked with mental health services and also referred for a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Exam) if recommended based upon the child’s disclosure.
The Center utilizes a multidisciplinary team approach to ensure the needs of victims and their families are met with consistent, compassionate and trauma informed care.