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About Children's Advocacy Centers

 

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CACs are community-based, child-focused organizations that work alongside a multidisciplinary team to coordinate the community's response to incidents of child sexual abuse with the goal of promoting healing and justice for victims and their families.


  

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CACs are community-based, child-focused organizations.

When we say that CACs are "community-based", we mean that no two CACs look the same because no two communities look the same. There is not one right way to build and operate a CAC because the strengths, opportunities, and needs of every community are different. CACs are formed by people in the community who care about what happens after a child in their area discloses abuse. 

When we say that CACs are "child-focused", we mean that the child is kept at the heart of everything we do. The physical facilities are designed to be child-friendly and to make children feel physically and psychologically safe when they are at their most vulnerable.



CACs work alongside a multidisciplinary
team (MDT).

The CAC model is about team work - bringing the agency professionals
involved in a child abuse case together on the front end - and about putting
the needs of the child victim first. CACs coordinate a "multidisciplinary team"
(or MDT) for response to child abuse allegations - MDTs include law
enforcement investigators, child protective services professionals,
prosecutors, medical examiners, mental health providers, and victim
advocates.

CACs coordinate the community's response to incidents of child sexual abuse.

By coordinating the response of agencies like law enforcement, child protective services, prosecutor's offices, 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 to coordinate care and investigation from first report to conviction and beyond, while keeping the child at the center of everything the team does.



CACs operate with the goal of promoting healing and justice for victims and their families.

CACs provide an array of compassionate, professional, trauma-informed services to children and their families: 

  • Forensic interviews:  neutral, fact-finding interviews about abuse allegations that are conducted in a manner that is A) legally defensible, B) sensitive to a child's developmental stage and abilities, and C) coordinated with other agencies to avoid duplicative interviewing
  • Medical evaluation: examinations conducted by specially trained medical professionals for the purposes of evidence collection, testing, and/or treatment
  • Victim support/advocacy: referrals, resources, and support from the time a forensic interview is scheduled until a case progresses through the court system and beyond

  • Trauma counseling: offered either at the CAC or through linkage agreements with other agencies; the mental and emotional effects of child abuse can be combatted with counseling and children can begin to find healing and hope

  • Case review & tracking:  team-discussion and information sharing throughout the case, monitoring of case progress and case outcomes to ensure cases are worked efficiently, effectively, and with as little impact on the child as possible



The whole picture

  



A NATIONWIDE MOVEMENT

National Children's Alliance Standards for Accreditation

The purpose of Children’s Advocacy Centers is to provide a comprehensive, culturally competent, multidisciplinary team response to allegations of child abuse in a dedicated, child-friendly setting. A child appropriate/child-friendly setting and a multidisciplinary team are essential to accomplish the mission of Children’s Advocacy Centers and for accredited membership in National Children’s Alliance.

The following program components are necessary for accredited membership in the National Children’s Alliance:


Child-Friendly Setting
: A Children’s Advocacy Center provides a comfortable, private, child-friendly setting that is both physically and psychologically safe for clients.

Multidisciplinary Team (MDT): A multidisciplinary team for response to child abuse allegations includes representation from the following disciplines: law enforcement, mental health, Children’s Advocacy Center, child protective services, medical, prosecution, victim advocacy 

Organizational Capacity: A designated legal entity responsible for program and fiscal operations has been established and implements basic sound administrative practices.

Cultural Competency and Diversity: The CAC promotes policies, practices and procedures that are culturally competent. Cultural competency is defined as the capacity to function in more than one culture, requiring the ability to appreciate, understand and interact with members of diverse populations within the local community.

Forensic Interviews: Forensic interviews are conducted in a manner which is of a neutral, fact finding nature, and coordinated to avoid duplicative interviewing.



Medical Evaluation: Specialized medical evaluation and treatment are to be made available to CAC clients as part of the team response, either at the CAC or through coordination and referral with other specialized medical providers.

Therapeutic Intervention: Specialized mental health services are to be made available as part of the team response, either at the CAC or through coordination and referral with other appropriate treatment providers. 

Victim Support/Advocacy: Victim support and advocacy are to be made available as part of the team response, either at the CAC or through coordination with other providers, throughout the investigation and subsequent legal proceedings.

Case Review: Team discussion and information sharing regarding the investigation, case status and services needed by the child and family are to occur on a routine basis.

Case Tracking: CACs must develop and implement a system for monitoring case progress and tracking case outcomes for team components.


HOW YOU CAN HELP

support

Support the CAC in your community.

Click here to see a map of Michigan's children's advocacy centers (CACs) and find out more about the CAC that serves children in your community. You can support your local CAC by donating, volunteering, hosting prevention events, and more!

Support statewide efforts to empower CACs.


Donate


Develop

Develop a CAC in an unserved area.

Click here to see a map of communities in Michigan without a children's advocacy center (CAC) and to learn more about what it takes to develop a CAC in your community.

Join the development team in your community.

Is there already a team developing a CAC in your community? You can offer support in a number of ways. Click here to contact MINCA about being connected with a development team.


LeARN

Learn the facts about child sexual abuse.

Click here to learn about the widespread and far reaching effects of sexual abuse and what you can do to prevent it.


Copyright Michigan Chapter of the National Children's Alliance. All rights reserved.