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Across the United States Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs) are in the forefront of child abuse intervention. CACs are distinguished by their multidisciplinary, team-orientated, and "victim-friendly" response to child abuse cases. Since the inception of the first CAC in 1985 in Huntsville, Alabama, the number of children's advocacy centers has grown to over 400 nationally.

The Primary Goal of Children's Advocacy Centers is to conduct coordinated multidisciplinary investigations of reported instances of sexual and physical abuse of children in one child-friendly location. The purpose of such investigations is to evaluate allegations of abuse with regard to protective and safety concerns, mental health issues, medical needs and possible prosecution. The mission of CACs is to foster collaboration and communication among agencies, minimize the number of times that children are interviewed, and provide a swift and sensitive, and culturally competent coordinated response to child victims and witnesses.

The National Children's Alliance (formerly the National Network of Children's Advocacy Centers) currently serves as a clearinghouse of information for communities across the country seeking to replicate the CAC model. In 1992, the CAC model became recognized and supported by federal legislation and appropriation. Federal funds are allocated to support the national organization, four regional training and technical assistance centers, and local CACs. The National Children's Alliance and four regional offices (with the Northeast Regional office located in Philadelphia) provide consultation to both new and existing programs, sponsor professional training programs, and offer funding for program development, training, and technical assistance. Membership standards have been developed and are being revised to ensure that CACs provide high quality services. Furthermore, legislative initiatives in many states now mandate multidisciplinary team investigations of child abuse and provide state funding to support them.

A variety of program models exist in the United States today. Many operate as nonprofit organizations, while others operate under the sponsoring umbrella of a particular agency or organization such as a prosecutor's office, hospital, or mental health agency. Services include multidisciplinary investigation teams to a wide variety of additional services including medical examinations, mental health evaluations, victim advocacy, training, and research. CACs function as a community resource on child abuse and family violence.

The Massachusetts Children's Alliance of the National Children's Alliance, is a networking and training organization created to support communities seeking to establish and improve CACs and multidisciplinary team programs throughout Massachusetts. Comprised of eleven programs of different models and at various stages of development, this group has been meeting informally since 1995 to improve our response to child abuse across our region.

Listing of Programs
What do CAC's Do?