New Jersey Children’s Alliance actively supports and promotes New Jersey’s 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 the end of 2021.
What is a CAC?
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.
A Child Advocacy Center is the ONE place that provides a safe, child-focused environment where law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, medical and mental health professionals share information and develop a coordinated strategy that seeks justice while also working to meet the unique needs of each child and family.
To understand what a Child 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, law enforcement, 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.
With the CAC model, a child discloses, or when abuse is suspected, the child is brought to the CAC, a child-friendly facility, where they are interviewed by a specially trained forensic interviewer. The professionals involved in the investigation can view the interview in monitoring rooms, with the goal of eliminating the need to re-interview the child. The team members share case information with one another and determine next steps. The family is then connected with needed services that promote healing, including medical and mental health care.
To see how CACs work, watch this short video: