Each child advocacy center is comprised of professionals from multiple disciplines, including child welfare, law enforcement, prosecution, mental health, child advocacy, and medical services. Representatives from the partner agencies work collaboratively to investigate allegations, create a plan, support the family, and minimize additional trauma for the child.
Forensic Interviews and Case Coordination
The forensic interview is conducted by specially trained child interviewers and is designed to eliminate suggestibility, using the latest research-based practices. The goal is to interview the child only once, and to share the interview among the disciplines, to reduce the impact of additional trauma. The team meets routinely to share information and update the plan.
Family and Court Advocacy
Advocates guide and support the child and family during and after the investigation process. They assess the need for follow-up services and locate providers in the family’s community. A court advocate explains the legal process to the child and family, helps them prepare their testimony, and may accompany the family to court.
Mental Health professionals consult on all cases involving children and/or family members with emotional or mental health concerns. They will assess mental health issues and provide crisis counseling or ongoing therapeutic services, if necessary. They also assist with referrals for specialized mental health treatment, including group and individual therapy sessions for children and non-offending family members.
Medical clinics at or associated with child advocacy centers provide comprehensive forensic medical evaluations of children by medical professionals with specialized training in child sexual abuse. The goal is to reassure the child that s/he has not been permanently “damaged” and address any ongoing medical issues.