What is a Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC)?
A CAC is a safe, child-friendly, and neutral space where a child is brought following concern or allegation of sexual abuse. That child can receive a specialized forensic interview and law enforcement and child protective investigations can be coordinated through pre- and post-interview meetings with providers and with the family referred. While at the CAC, the family is supported by a Family Advocate, who can then make any necessary referrals for services.
What is a forensic interview?
A forensic interview is a recorded conversation between a trained professional and a child that is neutral, developmentally appropriate, legally sound, and trauma-informed. Forensic interviews follow an evidence-based protocol developed by the National Children’s Advocacy Center.
Who can observe forensic interviews? Who gets a copy of the DVD?
Forensic interviews can be observed by investigators, including law enforcement professionals, child protective services staff, and prosecutors from the District Attorney’s office. Copies of the DVD go only to investigators as they are considered evidence in an ongoing investigation.
Are there other CACs?
Yes. There are CACs in all 50 states and CACs functioning or emerging in every public health district in Maine.
Who can make referrals and what cases can be seen at the CAC?
We accept referrals from Law Enforcement, Child Protective Services, and the District Attorney’s office when there is a concern or allegation of sexual abuse of a child between the ages of 3 and 18.
What services are offered by the CAC?
Coordinated meetings with investigators, CAC staff, children and families
Medical services provided by a board-certified Child Abuse Pediatrician
to any necessary services including mental health, victim’s rights, legal aid, domestic violence support, and others
Follow up by a Family Advocate following CAC visit
Does the CAC provide therapy to children and families?
No. The CAC has linkage agreements with mental health agencies in York County who have agreed to prioritize CAC referrals and serve children with evidence-based trauma treatment.
What are the goals of the CAC?
To reduce trauma to the children and families we see, increase communication between investigators, streamline child abuse investigations, and ensure survivors of sexual abuse have all necessary supports in place.