To understand what a Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) is, you must understand what children face without one. Without a CAC, the child may end up having to tell the worst story of his or her life over and over again, to doctors, police officers, lawyers, therapists, investigators, judges, and others. They may have to talk about that traumatic experience in a police station where they think they might be in trouble, or may be asked the wrong questions by a well-meaning teacher or other adult that could hurt the case against the abuser.
When law enforcement or Department of Human Resources (DHR) have concerns that a child is being abused, the child is brought to the CAC—a safe, child-focused environment—by a caregiver or other “safe” adult. At the CAC, the child tells their story once to a trained interviewer who knows the right questions to ask in a way that does not result in further trauma for the child. Then, a team that includes law enforcement, mental health, prosecution, DHR, victim advocacy, and other professionals make decisions together about how to help the child based on the interview. This is called the multidisciplinary team (MDT) response and is a core part of the work of child advocacy centers. The Southeast Alabama Child Advocacy Center offers therapy, plus courtroom preparation, victim advocacy, and other services.Contact Us
The Southeast Alabama Child Advocacy Center (CAC) is a child-focused place where families meet with professionals in the field of child abuse investigations. Services such as forensic interviews and therapy are offered free of charge to reduce the trauma experienced by kids who may have been abused. The CAC is a child-friendly facility that is a positive alternative to taking your child to various different places to meet with law enforcement, the Department of Human Resources (DHR), or others.
Our goal is to make sure you and your child are as comfortable and supported as possible throughout this process. Our building is a friendly and comfortable place that is set up so that you and your child feel at ease.
It is often helpful for a child to be prepared by their caregiver to come to the CAC by providing some basic information. You may tell your child he or she is coming to a nice place to talk to nice people whose job is to keep kids safe. Give your child enough notice so they don’t feel surprised by the appointment, but don’t give them so long a period of time that they worry or overly anticipate their visit. It is helpful to emphasize the importance of telling the truth, but it is imperative that you don’t question your child about specific allegations or coach your child about what to say.
If you are scheduled to come to the CAC, please arrive on time and come prepared to complete necessary paperwork. Most families who come for their first appointment at the CAC are here one to two hours. When you arrive, you will be greeted by friendly faces, and will be shown to a family room with toys and games. CAC staff and professionals from the Department of Children’s Services and/or law enforcement will meet with you to help you understand the process, answer your questions, and make you feel as comfortable as possible.
While you are meeting with our Family Advocate, your child will be talking to one of our trained forensic interviewers. They have received specialized training on how to talk to children about difficult subjects and they will never force a child to talk to them. Following their interview, your child will receive a snack and a stuffed animal of their choosing from our toy wall. If you are interested in therapy for your child, an appointment will be made prior to leaving our center.Contact Us