What Are CACs?
Child Advocacy Centers (CAC) are a place where a child who has been victim of sexual abuse, severe physical abuse, witness to domestic violence or commercial sexual exploitation can receive the support they need in a streamlined and victim focused way.
Without a CAC, children who have been victims of abuse may need to tell their stories over and over again: to doctors, law enforcement, lawyers, therapists, investigators, and more. They may have to talk about that traumatic experience in a police station where they think they might be in trouble.
When police or the Department of Children and Families believe a child is being abused, the child is brought to the CAC, which is a child friendly and safe place, by a non-offending parent or caregiver. At the CAC, the child tells their story once to a trained interviewer who knows the right questions to ask in a way that does not retraumatize the child. After the interview, a team that includes medical professionals, law enforcement, mental health, child protective services, victim advocacy, and other professionals make decisions together about how to help the child based on the interview. The child and their non-offending family is then offered immediate wrap-around services such as family advocacy, mental health support, medical support. This is called the multidisciplinary team (MDT) response and is a core part of the work of CACs.