Child Advocacy Centers (CACs)
New Jersey Children’s Alliance actively supports and promotes New Jersey’s 10 accredited Child Advocacy Centers (CACs), and is working toward the mission of ensuring that every child in the state has access to a CAC. In support of that mission, we have set the goal of having 21 CACs in New Jersey by 2021.
What are CACs?
Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) are child-friendly centers where a multidisciplinary team (MDT) consisting of Department of Children and Families workers, police, prosecutors, victim advocates, medical and mental health professionals meet to coordinate a response to allegations of child sexual and severe physical abuse. To see how CACs work, watch this short video:
ACs foster collaboration and communication amongst agencies, minimize the number of times that children are interviewed, and provide a swift and sensitive, and culturally- competent coordinated response to child victims and witnesses.
Why are CACs important?
CACs reduce the need for children to “tell their story” repeatedly by coordinating a single forensic (fact-finding) interview to gather the information needed by each member of the MDT to successfully investigate allegations of abuse. CACs function as a community resource on child abuse and family violence.
What services are offered?
Through the CAC, children and families are linked to medical, mental health, victim advocacy and other services as determined on a case-by-case basis. Services include multidisciplinary teams investigations and forensic interviews, victim advocacy, medical and mental health services, as well as community education. CACs are a nationally recognized, empirically supported model, and are regularly evaluated to ensure the highest level of services are provided.
Why are these services provided at the CAC?
CACs are designed to reduce the stress experienced by child victims of abuse of their non-offending family members throughout the investigation and intervention process. The purpose of such investigations is to evaluate allegations of abuse with regard to protective and safety concerns, mental health issues, medical needs and possible prosecution.