Child Advocacy Centers offer best practices in the serving of abused children through a comprehensive approach to services for victims and their families. Child Advocacy Centers stress coordination of investigation and intervention services by bringing together professionals and agencies as a multidisciplinary team to create a child focused approach to child abuse cases. Key components of a child advocacy center include forensic interviewing, medical evaluations, advocacy and support, therapeutic intervention, case review and tracking. The goal is to ensure that children are not re-victimized by the very system designed to protect them.
When requested by law enforcement, child protective services or county attorneys, a Child Interview Specialist will conduct a video-taped forensic interview with the child. One of the goals of this interview is to reduce the number of times the child must tell the story of his/her abuse. Reducing the number of interviews reduces the trauma for the child.
The medical staff performs complete examinations for children referred for sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect, and for children entering the foster care system (varying on location). Referrals for sexual abuse examinations are made by Child Protective Services, Law Enforcement, physicians and hospital emergency room departments.
An advocate will assess each child's needs and refer them to appropriate therapy, support groups, and other resources. Families also receive help in "understanding the system." Regular follow-up contact with the family is done to ensure a better case outcome.
Case Staffings/Case Reviews
A multi-disciplinary team consisting of law enforcement, child protective services, medical professionals, prosecution, school personnel, and Child Advocacy Center staff regularly reviews cases and discusses general issues. The team also works toward making changes and finding solutions to problems in reporting and investigating child abuse, as well as other identified system issues.