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The CAC provides services for child sexual abuse victims and their families in a child-friendly environment, which serves as a centralized location for interviewing and examining children who are victims of sexual abuse. Children are interviewed by specially-trained forensic interviewers and cases are managed by a multidisciplinary team comprising of Athens County Children’s Services, Athens County prosecutors, local law enforcement officers, mental health and medical professionals and victim advocates. The goal of the center is to minimize stress and trauma children and family and maximize investigation quality. Coordination of services assures victims and their families receive immediate assessment and assistance, expedite treatment and recovery, and feel supported by child and victim advocates. Another focus of the CAC is to provide community education and outreach. Please contact the CAC for more information about resources and presentations that are available.
Benefits of a Child Advocacy Center to our Community
- Diminishes the costly long-term consequences of exposure to abuse and family violence
- Decreases the cost of investigating child abuse cases
- Decrease the time that it takes to investigate cases
Improves Mental Health and Education
- Promotes resiliency in children
- Provides prevention programs and community education
- Coordinates and facilitates a multidisciplinary approach to working with child abuse cases so that children aren’t re-traumatized
- Provides consultation and support to professionals in the community
- Offers specific mental health services: case management, clinical evaluations, individual/family therapy
Improves Public Safety
- Increases conviction and sentencing rates of perpetrators
- Minimizes the possibility of children “falling through the cracks”
- False allegations are quickly and efficiently dealt with, creating safeguards for all
“Executive Summary: Findings from the UNH Multi-Site Evaluation of Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs)”; Ted Cross, PhD., and Lisa Jones, PhD.; Crimes Against Children Research Center, University of New Hampshire; 2006.
- Police in CAC communities were involved in 81% of CPS investigations of sexual abuse compared to only 52% of cases in comparison communities. A team interview was given 28% of the time as opposed only 6% without a CAC
- 48% of the children in CAC samples received a forensic medical exam versus 21% of the children in non-CAC communities.
- 60% of the children in CAC communities received referral for mental health services versus 22% of the children in non-CAC communities. Additionally, in a CAC community, 31% of the children received on-site counseling.
- According to research children’s advocacy centers are viewed as leaders in the community and experts in child abuse
- Only CACs with strong involvement from law enforcement and district attorneys’ offices showed an impact on criminal justice outcomes.