Without A CAC
To understand what a Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) is, you must understand what children face without one. Without a CAC, the child may end up having to tell about the worst thing that has happened in his or her life over and over again, to doctors, police officers, 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 hurt the case against the abuser.
With A CAC
When police or child protective services (SC Dept. of Social Services) believe a child is being abused, the child is brought to the CAC—a safe, child-focused environment—by a caregiver or other “safe” adult. At the CAC, the child tells their story one time to a trained interviewer who knows the right questions to ask in a way that does not retraumatize the child. Then, a team that includes medical professionals, law enforcement, mental health, solicitor’s office, child protective services, victim advocacy, and other professionals make decisions together about how to best help the child and their family. CAC’s offer trauma-focused therapy and medical exams, victim advocacy, case management, and other services. This is called the multidisciplinary team (MDT) response and is a core part of the work of CAC’s do in South Carolina.
How Does the CAC Model Work?
Child Advocacy Center Advantages
- Reduces the number of interviews a child victim must endure, which reduces the trauma to the child.
- Creates a comfortable, child-friendly environment for the investigation as opposed to the environment typically experienced in a hospital emergency room or police station.
- Reduces law enforcements and social services investigative time.
- Enables quicker prosecutions through more efficient case processing.
- Increases communication between agencies for an improved understanding of their roles and case need.