What is a Child Advocacy Center?
A Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) is a child-friendly facility in which law enforcement, child protection, prosecution, mental health, medical, and victim advocacy professionals work together to investigate abuse, help children heal from abuse, and hold offenders accountable.
To understand what a Child Advocacy Center is, you must understand what children face without one. Without a CAC, the child may end up having to tell the worst story of their life over and over again, to doctors, law enforcement, lawyers, therapists, investigators, judges, and others. They may have to talk about that traumatic experience in a police station where they think they might be in trouble, or may be asked the wrong questions by a well-meaning teacher or other adult that could impact the investigation.
At the CAC, the child tells their story once to a trained interviewer who knows the right questions to ask in a way that does not not re-traumatize the child. Then, a team that includes medical professionals, law enforcement, child protective services, victim advocacy, and other professionals make decisions together about how to help the child based on the interview. CACs offer medical exams, plus family advocacy, case management, and other services.