Children’s Advocacy Centers of Mississippi (CACM) is an accredited chapter of the National Children’s Alliance. As a membership organization with numerous local Advocacy Centers throughout the state, we bring together multidisciplinary teams to streamline the process of child abuse situations. Our goal is always to put the needs of the child first, and we bring all services under one umbrella. By bringing together many disciplines, including law enforcement, child protection, prosecution, mental and/or medical health, victim advocacy and child advocacy, we work together to conduct interviews and make team decisions about investigation, treatment, management and prosecution of child abuse cases.
The mission of CACM is to support the development and continuation of children's advocacy centers that meet the accreditation standards of the National Children's Alliance and to improve the ability and skill of Mississippi's child abuse professionals to better serve victims of child abuse.
The Children's Advocacy Centers of Mississippi (CACM) was developed by a group of CAC directors that recognized the need to provide consistent and quality services to the entire state. CACM is a non-profit organization that was incorporated in 2009 and operates within the meaning of 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. CACM is an Accredited Chapter through the National Children's Alliance.
In 1990, the state’s first children’s advocacy center was established in Jackson – Mississippi Children’s Advocacy Center. As the years passed, more and more CACs were formed in Mississippi, and in 2001, Mississippi Children’s Alliance formed as a state chapter of the National Children’s Alliance with all Mississippi CACs as member centers.
In 2002, Senate Bill 2413 passed, recognizing CACs as members of the Multidisciplinary Team and endorsing the Team approach to investigating and prosecuting child abuse in Mississippi.
Mississippi Children’s Alliance became Children’s Advocacy Centers of Mississippi in 2005. Five years later, CACM received its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status from the IRS, along with its charity registration with the Secretary of State’s Office.
CACM received National Children’s Alliance Chapter Accreditation in 2011. In 2012, CACM received support from the State of Mississippi for training of Multidisciplinary Team members and the expansion of CAC services.
CACM supports local Mississippi agencies that are seeking accreditation from the National Children’s Alliance. The following program components are necessary for accredited membership in National Children’s Alliance:
1. MDT: A Multidisciplinary Team for response to child abuse allegations includes representation from the following: Law Enforcement, Child Protection Services, Prosecution, Medical, Mental Health, Victim Advocacy, Children’s Advocacy Center
2. Cultural Competency: The Children's Advocacy Center provides cultural competent services for all CAC clients throughout the life of the case.
3. Forensic Interviews: Forensic interviews are conducted in a manner that is legally sound, of a fact-finding nature, and are coordinated to avoid duplicative interviewing.
4. Victim Support and Advocacy: Victim support and advocacy services are provided to all CAC clients and their caregivers as part of the Multidisciplinary Team response.
5. Medical Evaluation: Specialized medical evaluation and treatment services are available to all CAC clients and coordinated as part of the Multidisciplinary Team response.
6. Mental Health: Evidence-based trauma-focused mental health services, designed to meet the unique needs of the children and caregivers, are consistently available as part of the Multidisciplinary Team response.
7. Case Review: A formal process in which multidisciplinary discussion and information sharing regarding the investigation, case status and services needed by the child and family is to occur on a routine basis.
8. Case Tracking: Children's Advocacy Centers must develop and implement a system for monitoring case progress and tracking case outcomes for all MDT components.
9. Organizational Capacity: A designated legal entity responsible for program and fiscal operations has been established and implements basic sound administrative policies and procedures.
10. Child Focused Setting: The child-focused setting is comfortable, private and both physically and psychologically safe for diverse populations of children and their family members.
Welcome, and thank you for visiting the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Mississippi’s website. As we talked about the look and content of our website, one theme kept coming up to the surface—the power of our collective voices. Child advocacy centers encourage professionals to work together to have a collaborative investigation, to reduce the number of interviews with individual children, thereby reducing the potential re-traumatization to the child and, ultimately, to voice the needs of children who have been sexually and physically abused. Every child deserves the compassionate services of a child advocacy center, and together we can make Mississippi a safe, happy place for our children. However, it isn’t just up to the professionals to be that voice for the child.
Preventing Child Abuse in Your Community
In the wake of so many sexual abuse incidents hidden within large organizations - Penn State, the military, the Catholic Church - many citizens have been outraged at the lack of action taken on the part of those who suspected abuse; however, those working in this field know that this is not an isolated situation. Recent studies show that when faced with a situation of maltreatment, less than 50% of those mandated to report actually do so. Only one in ten children who have been sexually abused will tell someone; therefore, it takes the courage of one adult who suspects abuse to take that step for them. Adults teach children to look both ways before crossing the street, adults take on the responsibility of locking up toxic cleaners, adults teach children how to wear seatbelts. Yet so often, adults don’t take the responsibility to teach children about body safety. Adults leave it up to children to know how to tell adults “no.”
Child abuse is a community issue. Although nobody enjoys talking about child abuse, it is a very real problem in Mississippi that we must have honest and open conversations about. Last year, the child advocacy centers in the state saw over 3,400 children.
I am fortunate that my job allows me to be able to work with this amazing group of professionals from across the state of Mississippi that are supporting child victims and helping to end child abuse in this country. Although we have a long way to go, child advocacy centers work every day to assist child victims and provide tools to children and parents in our communities on ways to prevent abuse. I encourage you to explore our website to learn more about children’s advocacy centers, ways to prevent child abuse and how you can help. There are so many ways that you can make a difference. I challenge you to add your voice to the many voices speaking up for Mississippi’s children. Together, we can be the One Loud Voice that ends child abuse.
Join us on the journey to end child abuse.
Karla Steckler Tye