Confidentially is protected, and, for each report, a Child Protective Services professional will (1) alert law enforcement, (2) conduct an initial assessment with the family, (3) arrange for a detailed interview at the Center serving that area of the state and (4) participate in the development and delivery of an appropriate intervention strategy and services.
The Children’s Advocacy Center serves as the central hub to the Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT), a skilled team of professionals comprised of members numerous organizations, including law enforcement, social services, prosecution, mental health, medical, and victim advocacy personnel. The MDT work together in the investigation, treatment, management, and prosecution of child abuse cases.
When children are brought to the CAC through Law Enforcement or Child Protective Services, a Forensic Interview is conducted with the child. This process ensures that a possible child victim has the opportunity to tell his/her story to an unbiased professional while Law Enforcement, Child Protective Services, and other child protection professionals observe from another room via closed circuit video feed. The Forensic Interviewers are trained in gathering pertinent information from the children in a non-leading, non-biased, and sensitive manner. The Forensic Interview allows the children to tell what happened in a safe, neutral, “child-friendly” and private environment. The interview is recorded and becomes an important piece of evidence used throughout the investigation process. Today’s laws still require the child’s testimony in court instead of using the recorded interview.
To improve the likelihood of recovery from abuse, the CAC provides therapy for abused children and their non-offending family members. Trauma-focused, cognitive behavioral therapy is provided as an important part of the healing process for these children, and assists them in working through complex issues stemming from their abuse, such as trauma, shame, embarrassment, safety, and self-esteem. Therapy is individualized to meet emotional, psychological, and developmental needs of each child, and is provided for as long as the services are needed to help the child rebuild.
The role of the Family Advocate is to provide support to the child and their non-offending family members and to assist them in navigating the legal and court process. Services include facilitating criminal case information, making referrals to other supporting agencies, and assistance with applying for Crime Victims’ Compensation. The Family Advocate also will provide court accompaniment during any judicial proceedings. Families also may receive assistance such as school supplies and holiday programs as well as other family events.