Family Service of the Piedmont operates two Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) which are fully accredited by the National Children’s Alliance: The Greensboro Children’s Advocacy Center and Hope House Children’s Advocacy Center in High Point.
CACs offer a child-centered, friendly location for children who report sexual or physical abuse to receive investigation and intervention services.
CACs impact the community in two important ways: by ensuring that child victims and their families receive the help and support they need, and by helping the legal system to build their case against the perpetrator.
CACs coordinate the investigation, prosecution and treatment of child abuse using a multi-disciplinary approach. The location is designed to create a sense of safety and security for the child to disclose abuse that may have occurred.
The child meets with a specially trained Forensic Interviewer in order to gather specific details of the abuse in a non-threatening, forensically sound manner. The forensic interview room is equipped with a discreet video recorder to provide direct, reliable and often the only evidence to corroborate the allegations and prosecute the crimes. Child Victim Advocates then help connect victims and their families with counseling and other resources to aid in their recovery.
The multi-disciplinary team includes CAC staff, state’s attorneys, law enforcement, mental health representatives and medical representatives. This team works together throughout the investigation and prosecution, meeting on a regular basis to review the progress of each case to ensure that the children’s needs are being met sensitively and effectively.
Children and families come to the CAC during one of the most (if not the most) traumatic periods of their lives. Victims and their families are scared, embarrassed and uncertain what to expect. CAC staff are sensitive to these issues, and work to provide a safe and welcoming place for clients.
Child victims of sexual abuse who receive services at CACs are twice as likely to receive specialized medical exams and mental health treatment. Sexual abuse victims are very likely to experience emotional trauma. They need, and deserve appropriate mental health help. Family Service of the Piedmont’s mental health counseling services offers individual and family counseling for children and adolescents. For child clients, Family Service therapists use a best practice model that ensures collaboration with community supports to provide the best quality service to all children and their caregivers.
During 2011-2012, Family Service of the Piedmont’s Children’s Advocacy Centers performed 341 forensic interviews. That represents one abused child in Guilford County almost every day of the year.
99% of First forensic interviews resulted in adequate information for prosecution and child protection. This is an important goal of the CAC: to minimize trauma to the child by requiring them to share details of their ordeal only a single time.
After receiving CAC services, 85% of caregivers will follow through with their suggested safety plan.
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More Information about the Children’s Advocacy Center
The Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) provides children who may have been abused or witnessed violence, a child-friendly environment in which to tell their story, as well as resources to heal. The CAC program is a community multidiscipline team approach to the investigation, treatment, prosecution, and prevention of child abuse. The focus of the team approach is: one interview of the child by one person at a safe, friendly place so the child can tell their story. Our team consists of members from Local Law Enforcement, the Department of Social Services Child Protective Service Workers, Medical and Mental Health Providers, the District Attorney’s Office and specialized CAC staff provided by Family Service. The multidiscipline team of the CAC is often referred to as the MDT.
Our Child Victim Advocate continues to work with the child and his or her non-offending care-giver(s) after the completion of the forensic interview in an effort to connect the child to counseling and other services.
What happens at the CAC?
A Child Victim Advocate will greet parents/caregivers and their child and explain the CAC process when they arrive. The parent also has the opportunity to meet with the CVA for emotional support needs assessment and any additional questions about the case. They will then meet with the trained child forensic interviewer who will be speaking with the child. Before the forensic interview, the interviewer may talk with the parents to discuss the child and the circumstances that led to concerns of abuse in order to help the interviewer understand how best to set the child at ease during the interview. Following the conclusion of the forensic interview, the parent will have another opportunity to meet with the team to discuss possible recommendations for the family.
What happens during a Forensic Interview?
A child visiting the CAC is interviewed in a friendly, developmentally appropriate manner in a room designed to be comfortable for his or her age. Other members of the team such a Child Protective Service Workers and law enforcement investigators will observe this interview via closed circuit TV while the interview is recorded. This confidential recording provides a permanent, accurate record of the interview and also helps prevent your child from having to repeat his or her story multiple times.
The interviewer is sensitive to the child’s needs and structures the questions in a legally sound way that is non-leading and non-threatening.
What is a Child Victim Advocate?
The Child Victim Advocate works to reduce trauma and stress to families who come through the CAC. The Advocate will explain the CAC process and offer child clients and their parents/caregivers ongoing information and emotional support throughout any criminal court proceedings that may take place as a result of the investigation. She can also provide parents with referrals to other services, such as counseling, which will help the children and their family recover from the trauma they have experienced.
How are Children referred to the CAC?
DSS and local law enforcement agencies utilize the CAC when they investigate allegations of child abuse. If you suspect that a child you know is a victim of abuse, please contact DSS or law enforcement to report your concerns. The CAC works closely with these agencies to provide a coordinated investigation of child sexual and physical abuse allegations. They will then contact the CAC Child Victim Advocate or another CAC staff member to begin the multidisciplinary team process.
How does the MDT Team share information?
After the initial contact and forensic interview process, the various members working the case will meet for a “Team Case Review” to insure the needs of the child or other children involved in the case are met. This is a coordinated response to child sexual or physical abuse with representatives from each of the 6 disciplines of the CAC in an effort to ensure a seamless team response
What services are provided by the CAC?
The Greensboro and Hope House Children’s Advocacy Centers (CAC) provide the following services:
- Licensed Therapist specializing in child related trauma
- On site Child Medical Evaluations
- Non-Offending Caregiver Support Groups
- Children of Domestic Violence Support Groups
- Specialized Children of Sexual Assault Support Groups
- Court accompaniment
- Community Presentations
Read Stories of Children Served by Family Service’s CACs
Click to Make a Donation to support our Children’s Advocacy Centers. Thank you!
To report suspected child abuse or neglect in Guilford County, please call the Child Abuse Hotline: (336) 641-3795 or the Department of Social Services Office in your county.