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The Child Advocacy Centers
Improving the investigation, treatment and prosecution of cases through a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach
Current approaches to investigating cases of child abuse prolong children’s trauma, provide little mental health support for victimized children, and lack reliable evidence to prosecute abusers.
Historically, child victims of sexual or severe physical abuse often go through multiple interviews and examinations by multiple service providers. Subsequently, children may alter their stories with each interview, which hinders the investigation and prosecution of cases.This is also detrimental to the mental health of the victim. Children continuously relive the trauma of the abuse with each interview and the process leaves the child angry and confused. This compounds problems associated with abuse including nightmares, insomnia, aggression and poor academic achievement.
Because the traditional system of managing cases of abuse does not focus on victims, they rarely receive the ongoing mental health support they need to cope and recover. Maltreated children often have social, cognitive and economic difficulties in adulthood and suffer from a variety of physical and mental health problems. To decrease the negative impact of abuse, children need appropriate mental health services.
In 2017-2018, the Richmond and Henrico CAC’s served 1012 children who were alleged victims of severe physical abuse or neglect, child pornography, or witnesses to violence, and 638 adults including their non-offending caregivers.
SCAN opened the region’s first and only Child Advocacy Center (CAC) in 2004. In 2007, the National Children’s Alliance accredited CAC, recognizing the quality of services and the community’s dedication to the CAC model. In January 2012, the CAC achieved accreditation again.
In order to better accommodate families and children in Henrico County, SCAN opened a satellite CAC in March 2016 in collaboration with the Henrico Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) to serve Henrico County residents.
The CAC provides numerous services, including:
- child forensic interviews
- trauma focused treatment
- referral to medical services
- victim advocacy
- multidisciplinary case review
- case management and tracking
For more information about Child Advocacy Centers nationally or the NCA accreditation standards, visit www.nca-online.org.
The Multidisciplinary Model
The key to the success of the CAC is the flow of services through a multidisciplinary team, which consists of service providers involved in cases of severe sexual and physical child abuse: law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, mental health, medical services and victim advocacy.
The multidisciplinary team approach improves every aspect of a case.
It reduces the number of interviews a child has to endure by increasing joint interviews or by replacing multiple interviews with one comprehensive forensic interview. A highly trained professional conducts the interviews in a physically and psychologically safe environment specifically for children and records the interview. One positive outcome is often an increase in full disclosure from the victim regarding his or her abuse.
It improves the investigation of cases through increased collaboration and information sharing among team members. The team improves treatment by immediately linking children and their non-offending parents or caregivers to ongoing therapeutic services, which are available onsite at the CAC.
The CAC’s have established MDTs in the Cities of Richmond and Colonial Heights, and counties of Cumberland, Henrico, Louisa, New Kent, and Prince George. SCAN provides services to other families in the Greater Richmond area on a courtesy basis.
Ultimately, the team improves the prosecution of a case by producing evidence that is more reliable and a victim capable of being a stronger, more cooperative witness.
Visit the Child Advocacy Center
We welcome you to join us on a tour at the Henrico Child Advocacy Center. If you are interested in taking a tour, please contact Kristen Byrd at (804) 257-7226 or Kbyrd@grscan.com for more information or to register.
MediaWatch this video to learn more about the SCAN’s Child Advocacy Center and the life-changing work done by the staff of all 5 programs