Learn About CACs

What is a Child Advocacy Center?

A children’s advocacy center is the ONE place that provides a safe, child-friendly environment where law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, medical and mental health professionals may share information and develop effective, coordinated strategies sensitive to the needs of each unique case and child.

 

A Child Advocacy Center is a child-focused facility for:

  • Forensic Interviews

    Forensic interviews are neutral, non-biased and aimed at eliciting facts from children in a developmentally appropriate manner.

  • Medical Exams

    Coordinate medical exams. When necessary, child advocacy centers will ensure that children receive appropriate medical attention.

  • Multidisciplinary Team Case Reviews

    Coordinate a multidisciplinary team for response to child abuse allegations.

  • Therapy

    Offer mental health services for victims and their families.

  • Court Preparation

    Offer victim support and advocacy to clients throughout the investigation and legal proceedings. Conduct case tracking to monitor case progress.

  • Community Education & Prevention

    Train adults on how to better protect children from child sexual abuse.

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 the worst story of his or her life over and over again, to doctors, cops, 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.

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When police or child protective 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 once to a trained interviewer who knows the right questions to ask in a way that does not not retraumatize the child. Then, a team that includes medical professionals, law enforcement, mental health, prosecution, child protective services, victim advocacy, and other professionals make decisions together about how to help the child based on the interview. CACs offer therapy and medical exams, plus courtroom preparation, victim advocacy, case management, and other services. This is called the multidisciplinary team (MDT) response and is a core part of the work of CACs.

Last year, CACs provided an array of child-focused services to more than 20,000 children including:

NOTE: Numbers are based on FY 2018/2019

  • 10,345 Forensic interviews
  • 7,657 Case Reviews
  • 33,784 Mental Health Sessions
  • 1,073 Medical Exams
  • 15,077 Advocacy Services

Find your Local CAC

This project is funded under an agreement with the State of Tennessee.