Below you will find a summary of key aspects of accreditation requirements. For full accreditation standards, please see the attached document.
The following program components are necessary for accredited membership in National Children’s Alliance:
Multidisciplinary Team (MDT):
A multidisciplinary team for response to child abuse allegations includes representation from the following:
- Law Enforcement
- Child Protective Services
- Mental Health
- Victim Advocacy
- Children’s Advocacy Center
All members of the MDT—including appropriate CAC staff, as defined by the needs of the case—are routinely involved in investigations and/or MDT interventions.
CAC/MDT members participate in effective information sharing that is consistent with legal, ethical and professional standards of practice and ensures the timely exchange of case information within the MDT.
The CAC/MDT annually provides or facilitates relevant training or other educational opportunities focused on issues relevant to investigation, prosecution, and service provision for children and their non-offending caregivers. The CAC demonstrates documented MDT member participation in annual professional development.
Cultural Competency and Diversity:
The CAC promotes policies, practices and procedures that are culturally competent. Cultural competency is defined as the capacity to function in more than one culture, requiring the ability to appreciate, understand and interact with members of diverse populations within the local community.
In order to serve a community in a culturally competent manner, a CAC must complete a comprehensive assessment of the entire community and jurisdiction that they serve. The assessment should focus on a range of issues including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disabilities, income, geography, religion and culture. The assessment should inform the development of goals and strategies that ensure that the CAC delivers high quality, relevant, and accessible services to all children and families in need.
The CAC must ensure that provisions are made for non-English speaking and deaf or
hard of hearing children and their family members throughout the investigation,
intervention, and case management processes.
Furthermore, the CAC must be accessible to children with physical disabilities. Investigation and case management services must be responsive to children with cognitive delays and medical and mental health disorders.
The CAC demonstrates ongoing efforts to recruit, hire, and retain staff, volunteers, and board members that reflect the demographics of the community.
Forensic interviews are conducted in a manner which is of a neutral, fact finding nature, and coordinated to avoid duplicative interviewing.
Forensic interviews are provided by CAC/MDT staff members with specialized training in conducting forensic interviews.
MDT members with investigative responsibilities on a case must observe the forensic interview(s) to ensure necessary preparation, information sharing, and MDT/interviewer coordination throughout the interview and post-interview process.
Individuals who conduct forensic interviews at the CAC must participate in a structured peer review process for forensic interviewers a minimum of 2 times per year, as a matter of quality assurance.
Victim support and advocacy are to be made available as part of the team response, either at the CAC or through coordination with other providers, throughout the investigation and subsequent legal proceedings.
Comprehensive, coordinated victim support and advocacy services are provided by
designated individual(s) who have specialized training in victim advocacy. The CAC must demonstrate that all Victim Advocates who provide services to CAC clients have successfully completed a minimum of 24 hours of instruction including, but not limited to:
1. Dynamics of abuse
2. Trauma-informed services
3. Crisis assessment and intervention
4. Risk assessment and safety planning
5. Professional ethics and boundaries
6. Understanding the coordinated multidisciplinary response
7. Assistance in accessing/obtaining victims’ rights as outlined by law
8. Court education, support and accompaniment
9. Assistance with access to treatment and other services, including protective orders,
housing, public assistance, domestic violence intervention, transportation, financial assistance, interpreters, among others as determined for individual clients.
Active outreach and follow-up support services for caregivers are consistently available.
Specialized medical evaluation and treatment are to be made available to CAC clients as part of the team response, either at the CAC or through coordination and referral with other specialized medical providers.
Medical evaluations are conducted by health care providers with specific training in child sexual abuse that meets at least ONE of the following training standards:
Specialized medical evaluations for the child client are available on-site or with other
appropriate agencies or providers through written linkage agreement.
Specialized medical evaluations are available and accessible to all CAC clients regardless of ability to pay.
Evidence-based, trauma-focused mental health services, designed to meet the unique needs of the children and caregivers, are consistently available as part of the Multidisciplinary Team response.
Mental health services are provided by professionals with training in, and who deliver, trauma-focused, evidence-supported, mental health treatment. All mental health providers for CAC clients, whether providing services on-site or by referral and linkage agreement with outside individuals and agencies, must meet specified training requirements.
Mental health services are available and accessible to all CAC child clients regardless of ability to pay.
A formal process in which multidisciplinary discussion and information sharing regarding the investigation, case status, and services needed by the child and family must occur on a routine basis.
A forum for the purpose of reviewing cases is conducted at least once a month.
MDT partner agency representatives actively participating in case review must include, at a minimum:
1. Law enforcement
2. Child protective services
5. Mental health
6. Victim advocacy
7. Children’s Advocacy Center.
Children’s Advocacy Centers must develop and implement a system for monitoring case progress and tracking case outcomes for all Multidisciplinary Team components.
The CAC tracks and is able to retrieve NCA Statistical Information.
NCA statistical information minimally includes the following data:
1. Demographic information about the child and family
2. Demographic information about the alleged offender
3. Type(s) of abuse
4. Relationship of alleged offender to child
5. MDT involvement and outcomes
6. Charges filed and case disposition in criminal court
7. Child protection outcomes
8. Status/follow-through of medical and mental health referrals.
CAC has a mechanism for collecting client feedback so as to inform client service delivery. Client feedback may include client satisfaction surveys and/or outcome data. Care should be taken that survey instruments are valid and reliable. CACs may use a variety of valid instruments and assessment tools to meet this requirement. However, CACs that actively participate in NCA’s Outcome Measurement System (OMS) may be assured that they meet and exceed this requirement.
A designated legal entity responsible for program and fiscal operations has been established and implements basic sound administrative practices.
The CAC is an incorporated, private nonprofit organization or government-based agency or is a component of such entities.
The CAC has, and demonstrates compliance with, written screening policies for staff and volunteers that include criminal background, sex offender registration, and child abuse registry checks and provides training and supervision to staff and volunteers.
The CAC promotes employee well-being by providing training and information regarding the effects of vicarious trauma, providing techniques for building resiliency, and maintaining organizational and supervisory strategies to address vicarious trauma and its impact on staff.
The CAC has addressed its sustainability through the implementation of a current strategic plan approved by the governing entity of the CAC.
The CAC promotes MDT well-being by providing access to training and information on vicarious trauma and building resiliency to MDT members.
The child-focused setting is comfortable, private, and both physically and psychologically safe for diverse populations of children and their family members.
A Children’s Advocacy Center provides a comfortable, private, child-friendly setting that is both physically and psychologically safe for clients.
1. The CAC is maintained in a manner that is physically and psychologically safe for children and families
2. The CAC provides observation or supervision of clients within sight or hearing distance by CAC staff, MDT members or volunteers at all times
3. The CAC is convenient and accessible to clients and MDT members
4. Areas where children may be present as well as toys and other resources are “childproofed,” cleaned, and sanitized to be as safe as possible.