The mission of the Mercer County Children’s Advocacy Center is to provide a safe, child-friendly environment that will minimize trauma to the child while supporting the family through the multidisciplinary interview and investigative process of alleged child abuse.
Origins of the Children’s Advocacy Center
The Child Advocacy Center movement began in 1985 in the Huntsville, Alabama area. The District Attorney recognized the need to create a better system to help abused children. The social service and the criminal justice systems, at the time, were not working together in an effective manner that children could trust, adding to the children’s emotional distress, and creating a segmented, repetitious, and often frightening experience for the child victims. Robin’s Story illustrates the way it used to be and how it is now.
How the Children’s Advocacy Center Model Works
Why is the Children’s Advocacy Center model so important? How does it make a difference for child victims of abuse? At its core, the model is about teamwork – bringing the agency professionals involved in a case together on the front end – and about putting the needs of the child victim first. So rather than having a child taken from agency to agency throughout the law enforcement and child protection systems, and having to endure multiple, sequential interviews, the CAC model brings the system to the child, and brings the agency professionals together to work in a collaborative approach that results in effective, efficient and child-centered casework.