Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) are child-friendly facilities where children who experience abuse may participate in a forensic interview, medical examination, mental health treatment, and receive advocacy services.
Child Advocacy Centers facilitate the coordination of comprehensive investigation and intervention services by bringing together professionals and agencies as a multi-disciplinary team. This multi-disciplinary team is comprised of members from many disciplines, such as mental health providers, medical staff, victim advocates, law enforcement, social services, and prosecution, who work together in the investigation, treatment, and prosecution of child abuse cases. The primary goals of the CAC are to keep the child’s best interests at the center of care and ensure that children are not re-victimized by the very system designed to protect them.
The 24 CACs in Maryland are locally-based (one CAC in each jurisdiction in Maryland). Each CAC is uniquely designed to best meet the needs of its own community.
What do Child Advocacy Centers Offer?
A CAC is a place where :
- Concerned family members or citizens can make a report of child abuse.
- The child will participate in a neutral fact-finding conversation, conducted by experienced, trauma-informed forensic interviewers.
- Law enforcement personnel, state attorneys and child protective service workers promptly investigate alleged incidents of child abuse.
- A complete medical forensic evaluation can be conducted by medical staff with specialized training in pediatrics and child abuse.
- Children who have experienced abuse or witnessed violence may receive counseling services to help them heal and process trauma.
- Families may receive individualized support from an advocate, who will assist the family in accessing resources available to them and navigating the legal system, if necessary.
- Families may receive emotional support to help them cope with the trauma that the abuse has caused to the family system.
- Trained professionals work together to improve the safety and well-being of children through intervention and prevention in their communities.