Child Advocacy Centers
What is a children’s advocacy center (CAC)?
Imagine five-year-old Robin.
She loves to play dolls with her friends, eat ice cream, teach her dog tricks and go to kindergarten. While Robin may appear to be a normal five year old to those around her, she actually is keeping a very deep and dark secret. Six months ago, Robin’s mom started dating a new guy and he moved in with them shortly thereafter. Since then, Robin has been sexually abused night after night by her mom’s boyfriend, someone she originally trusted and even loved. While Robin knows that what he is doing doesn’t feel right, she doesn’t want to tell anyone because he’s told her that if she tells her mom or anyone else that he will kill her dog. Robin doesn’t know what to do.
While Robin is a fictional character, she represents the large number of children who are abused both physically and sexually in this country and even in the Greene County community. Robin’s case is not unique. One in ten children will be sexually abused before they are 18 and like Robin, 90 percent will be by someone the child knows, loves and trusts.
Children’s advocacy centers, like Michael’s House, exist nationwide to provide a safe environment for children who have been abused to come and share their history of abuse one time with everyone who needs to hear it.
Before children’s advocacy center’s existed, Robin would have had to tell her story to a number of people. She may have started by telling her teacher, but by the time the case was ready to be prosecuted she would have been asked to tell her story to a possible 15 or more people such as a school nurse or principal, police officer, social worker, doctor, detective, child protection investigator, lawyer and a counselor. Having to share her story with this many people only traumatizes Robin more because she is continually having to relive the abuse done by her mom’s boyfriend.
When children tell their history of abuse multiple times, they can become weary of retelling all the details and sometimes even take back the whole thing because they don’t want to talk about it anymore.
With the current system of CACs, children are not re-traumatized by the system that is meant to protect them. Instead, they are brought to a place like Michael’s House where they can share their experience a minimal number of times and receive the help that they need. Robin will be able to sit down with an interviewer who will listen to all the details of the abuse by her mother’s boyfriend. The interview is recorded and may be observed by a detective, victim advocate and child protective services worker. This way everyone who needs to hear Robin’s story is able to without having her tell it over and over again.
National Children’s Alliance Accreditation
Michael’s House is an accredited member of the National Children’s Alliance (NCA) The NCA was formed in response to the growing number of children’s advocacy centers across the United States, and the demand for guidance, training and standards of practice. The NCA sets forth the 10 basic standards by which Michael’s House is organized, and ensures Michael’s House continues to meet and exceed these standards through its re-accreditation process. Through regional advocacy centers, the NCA provides support and guidance to developing and existing advocacy centers throughout the country. Michael’s House is a member of the Midwest Regional Children’s Advocacy Center (MRCAC) located in Minneapolis, Minnesota.