Each year there are over one million confirmed cases of child maltreatment in the United States and thousands of reported and confirmed cases in Missouri. Last year Child Advocacy Centers in Missouri provided services to over 6,500 children referred to as victims of child abuse. The Missouri Network of Child Advocacy Centers is a Program of Missouri KidsFirst.
- Missouri’s Child Advocacy Centers regional and satellite locations provide support for children and families in all of the state’s 114 counties and the City of St. Louis.
- Missouri Child Advocacy Centers serve around 7,000 children each year.
- Missouri KidsFirst provides advocacy and support to Missouri’s 15 regional Child Advocacy Centers.
Child Advocacy Center Model
The Children’s Advocacy Center model is a child-focused, facility-based program in which representatives from many disciplines: law enforcement, child protection, prosecution, mental health, medical and victim advocacy – work together, conducting joint forensic interviews and making team decisions about the investigation, treatment, management and prosecution of child abuse cases.
CACs are community-based programs designed to meet the unique needs of a community, so no two CACs look exactly alike. They share a core philosophy that child abuse is a multifaceted community problem and no single agency, individual or discipline has the necessary knowledge, skills or resources to serve the needs of all children and their families. They also share a belief that the combined wisdom and professional knowledge of professionals of different disciplines will result in a more complete understanding of case issues and the most effective, child and family-focused system response.
The primary goal of all CACs is to ensure that children are not further victimized by the intervention systems designed to protect them. Program objectives include:
- Developing a comprehensive multidisciplinary, developmentally and culturally appropriate response to child abuse which is designed to meet the needs of children and their families in a specific community.
- Establishing a neutral, child friendly facility where interviews and/or services for abused children can be provided.
- Preventing trauma to the child caused by multiple, duplicative contacts with different professionals.
- Providing needed mental health treatment and other services to children and families.
- Maintaining open communication, information sharing and case coordination among community professionals and agencies involved in child protection efforts so that case decision-making and policy development are enhanced.
- Coordinating and tracking investigative, prosecutorial, child protection and treatment efforts so that cases do not “fall through the cracks.”
- Holding more offenders accountable through improved prosecution of child abuse cases.
- Enhancing professional skills necessary to effectively respond to cases of child abuse through cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural training and support.
- Enhancing community awareness and understanding of child abuse.
This Information was retrieved from The National Children Advocacy Center (NCAC), the accrediting organization for Child Advocacy Centers.