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In 1985, Former Congressman Robert E. "Bud" Cramer (AL) organized an effort to create a better system to help abused children. The social service and the criminal justice systems at the time were not working together, which added to the children's emotional distress, and created a segmented, repetitious, and often frightening experience for the child victims. The child advocacy center model pulls together law enforcement, criminal justice, child protective service, medical and mental health workers onto one coordinated team.
There are now more than 600 established and developing children's advocacy centers in the United States alone with growing interest internationally.
In 2002 community members and social service providers in our community met to form the Athens County Child Advocacy Center. The results of the collaboration were obtaining of a Child Colposcope, Pediatric SANE examinations at the local hospital, and audio visual forensic interviewing equipment. In 2005 the collaboration continued towards becoming a recognized Child Advocacy Center. In 2006 the Athens County Child Advocacy Center (ACCAC) was approved for accreditation by the National Children’s Alliance and received grant funding to conduct medical exams, MTD meetings, and forensics interviews onsite.
The CAC model allows constant and ongoing intra-agency collaboration from the time the incident is reported through post-trial follow-up. Previously, each organization performed independent investigations, resulting in the following problems: needless repetition of the details of the incident, causing additional stress and trauma to the child and parents; duplication of services, wasting manpower and money for each agency involved; unreasonably long delays in filing charges; incomplete or nonexistent follow up with the parents, resulting in confusion and lowered engagement in the process; lack of overall coordination, resulting in the loss of services necessary to ensure the child and family heal from the trauma. Through centralization and coordination, the CAC model more effectively avoids these problems and provides a process which is less traumatic for the victim and streamlined for the involved agencies.