What is the CAC?
The Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) serves child victims of abuse through a comprehensive approach of providing services to the victim and their non-offending family members.
The CAC provides a safe, neutral child-focused environment where child victims meet with members of a multidisciplinary team for the purpose of the investigative interview. The CAC staff provides advocacy services that help bridge the gap between law enforcement and the court system. Children come to the center when a report has been made to either law enforcement or the Department of Children and Family Services.
What To Expect?
The Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) understands that child abuse is an extremely difficult subject to talk about. Your child is brave for sharing their story and helping other children escape abuse. Any hint or suspicion of abuse of your child causes many strong and confusing emotions. The process of determining what happened to your child and how to proceed from there may seem quite overwhelming. It is our job to ensure that your family receives swift, necessary support.
The investigation of the abuse will take place by a team of professionals, which typically includes a State's Attorney, DCFS investigator, Police detective, and Advocacy Center staff. The team approach to these cases keeps the process as simple as possible.
When a child victim arrives at the center, the Family Advocate greets the child victim and their non-offending family members/caretakers making them comfortable in the family waiting room. The advocate briefly explains the interview process to the victim and shows them the interview room.
The child is then seen by a specially trained forensic interviewer in order to gather specific details of the abuse in a non-threatening manner. The interviewer will take the time to make sure your child is comfortable with them and will make sure your child knows you are available if they need. Your child will know where you are while they are being interviewed.
During the interview, the Family Advocate meets with the non-offending family members/caretakers to explain the investigative process. Medical, legal and counseling advocacy referrals will be made for the victim when appropriate.
Every interview at the CAC is recorded for the purpose of the investigation. Although the recording may be used as evidence in court, it does not eliminate the child’s testimony if the case goes to court.
"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, cops, lawyers, therapists, investigators, judges, and others."