If you suspect child abuse, call the National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4ACHILD (800-422-4453)
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.