When child abuse is reported, it is important that a community have a good, competent community response to reduce the possibility that a child may not be protected. Children’s Advocacy Centers enhance coordination between community agencies and professionals involved in the intervention system. They promote better understanding of and respect for one another’s roles and expertise, more informed case management decisions, and most importantly, a minimization of the trauma children can suffer following disclosure and the subsequent investigation and intervention process.

For more information about Children’s Advocacy Centers or to request help with CAC development, please contact us.

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1. Assess local needs

Collect the following statistics from the past three years:

  • Number of investigations conducted by Child Protective Services
  • Number of investigations and arrests related to crimes against children recorded by all local law enforcement agencies
  • Number of convictions/prosecutions connected to alleged crimes against children in the projected services area
  • Number of juvenile adjudications connected to alleged crimes against children in the projected service area

This data will provide a comprehensive overview of current strengths and weaknesses in the child abuse investigation, prosecution and intervention systems within your own community. These statistics can serve as a roadmap for determining the scope of the local program, what services it should offer, what the target population looks like, which local agencies need to be involved and at what level. In addition, once the local center is operational, this initial needs assessment will provide an important benchmark for determining if the program is truly making a difference in these cases and in the lives of child victims.

2. Initiate conversations with local, regional, and state child abuse agencies

Include agencies such as:

  • Child protective services
  • Local law enforcement
  • Adult and juvenile prosecutors
  • Medical and mental health professionals
  • Victim Advocates
  • Other CACs serving your county

Use dialogue as an opportunity to assess levels of interest and commitment regarding formation of a multidisciplinary team and development of a CAC.

3. Identify Community Leadership

Identify and involve local community leaders with an interest in issues related to child abuse victims and their families. Assess level of interest and commitment related to formation and support of a CAC.

4. Identify Community Resources

Identify and communicate with individuals, groups, businesses and organizations that have an interest in the well-being of local children. Identify community resources including people, finances, facilities, materials, services, etc. that might be useful in the establishment, development and maintenance of a CAC. By contacting CACNS as early as possible in the development stages of a CAC, communities can benefit from the wealth of collective experience of successful, established CACs throughout North Dakota. CACND can provide resource materials, public presentations, and training. CACND can also provide ongoing direction and technical assistance for communities in the early stages of CAC development.

If your community is interested in developing a Children’s Advocacy Center, complete and return the Application for New Membership, or contact us at 701-587-1229 or info@cacnd.org.