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Children's Advocacy Centers of Mississippi
Children's Advocacy Centers of Mississippi

The Role of Children’s Advocacy Centers™

Children’s Advocacy Centers of Mississippi’s 12 member child advocacy centers provide critical services to children that are the victims of the most severe felony abuse: all sexual abuse, severe physical abuse(ex: burns, choking, permanent injury, broken bones, etc.), drug endangered children, trafficking victims and children who have witnessed a homicide or similarly violent crime. The core foundation of the child advocacy center is to work collaboratively with law enforcement, medical personnel, child protective services, prosecutors and other key professionals during the investigation, prosecution, and treatment of child abuse cases. That collaboration begins with training programs for all members of the multidisciplinary teams that emphasize recognition, competency, and cooperation to manage their individual roles throughout a child abuse investigation.

Prior to the advent of children’s advocacy centers, abused children faced a maze of entities in reporting the abuse and getting appropriate therapeutic care. All too often the professionals involved with the case - no matter their profession- were not adequately prepared or trained to respond to child abuse and were, unfortunately, learning on the job how to respond to these child victims. Families often faced frustration with the system and withdrew from the process, resulting in no conviction for the perpetrator and no healing for the child.

The overriding benefit of the child advocacy center model is that the case investigations are coordinated from the onset. They begin more timely, fewer cases are missed, families receive appropriate referrals for the proper medical exams, children receive evidenced-based therapy sooner and the CAC collaborative model reduces duplication of resources.[i] The collaborative approach is instrumental in assuring that all services provided by the team are performed at the highest level and that the entire team works efficiently for the benefit of the child and their non-offending family members.

At the local child advocacy centers, a child can relate his or her experience one time, in one place. Rather than being shuffled between doctors, police, counselors, and child advocates, the model strives to bring these professionals together while minimizing trauma to the victim. We strive to provide a comfortable, child-friendly setting in which a child can feel safe telling what has happened to him or her.Our multidisciplinary teams are made up of trained professionals whose primary goal is to reduce the burden on children and help facilitate their recovery.

[i] Lalayants, M., & Epstein, I. Evaluating multidisciplinary child abuse and neglect teams: a research agenda. Child Welfare, 2005; 84(4).