The Children’s Advocacy Centers (CAC) are a new way of serving child victims of sexual abuse or serious physical abuse through a comprehensive approach to services for victims and their families. The Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) provides a safe, neutral, child-friendly environment where child victims of non-offending families meet with members of a multidisciplinary team of professionals for the purpose of investigation. The Children’s Advocacy Center staff provides advocacy services and help bridge the gap between social services, law enforcement, and the court system.
What happens at the CAC?
When a child victim arrives at the center CAC staff greets the child victim and non-offending family making the child comfortable in one of the age appropriate waiting areas.
The child meets with a trained child forensic interviewer. The interviews are video recorded and become part of evidence for the purpose of investigation. A multidisciplinary team of professionals is present at the CAC to observe the interview by closed circuit television. The team is available to meet with the non-offending family.
During the interview, CAC staff meets with non-offending family to obtain pertinent information such as telephone numbers and addresses so that CAC staff will have a means of ongoing communication with the family. CAC staff will explain the investigation process to the family. Medical and mental health (counseling) referrals will be made when appropriate.
CAC staff continue to support and assist the child and non-offending family. CAC staff keep the child and family updated with the progress of the investigation. If the case moves to court CAC staff attends court with or for the family always keeping the family informed of all updates in the case.
The multidisciplinary team (MDT) is made up of professionals who work together throughout the investigation and prosecution of child sexual abuse and severe physical abuse cases.
The MDT, coordinated by CAC staff, meets regularly to discuss the progress of each case.
Members of the team are:
- CAC staff
- State’s Attorney
- Members of law enforcement including the Sheriff’s Department, Police Departments, and Illinois State Police
- Mental Health Representative
- Medical Representative