Within a Children’s Advocacy Center, agencies and professionals work together to reduce the trauma young victims experience from interaction with a confusing system and to enhance the system’s ability to respond to child maltreatment. The heart of the Children’s Advocacy Center is the multidisciplinary team. The team is made up of social workers, law enforcement officers, doctors, prosecutors, mental health professionals and victim advocates.
By agency agreement, the child is met and interviewed at the Children’s Advocacy Center by a professional who has received specialized training in child abuse investigations and forensic interviewing, helping to provide a neutral investigation.
Following the interview, the team members meet to discuss each child’s particular situation. At these meetings all members have the opportunity to share their expertise and contribute to the overall case plan. Children suspected of being sexually abused should have a complete medical evaluation by a doctor or nurse practitioner who has received specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of child maltreatment. A comprehensive mental health assessment and treatment program for victims and non-offending family members is essential.
Supported by a coordinated approach, with the assessment and interventions provided in a child friendly environment, child victims are more likely to be better and more effective witnesses. But most important child victims and their families begin the healing process sooner and experience more successful treatment outcomes.