CAC Facts & FAQs
A CAC is a place that provides a child-friendly, safe and neutral location in which law enforcement and Child Protective Services investigators can have a child forensically interviewed when he/she is an alleged victim of crimes. Additionally, a CAC is where the child and non-offending family members receive support, crisis intervention, and referrals for mental health and medical treatment after experiencing child abuse.
The primary goal of all CACs accredited by the National Children’s Alliance (NCA) is to ensure that children disclosing abuse are not further victimized by the intervention systems designed to protect them. CACs are child-focused, facility-based programs with representatives from many disciplines working together to effectively investigate, prosecute, and treat child abuse. CACs are not only child-focused, but are also designed to create a sense of safety and security for child victims.
Child Advocacy Centers offer a variety of services and treatments. While each CAC may offer different programs, forensic interviews, forensic medical exams, mental health services, and victim advocacy are the main types of services offered by CACs.
From 2009-2016 there were over 9,000 substantiated cases of child abuse or neglect in Dorchester, Charleston, and Berkeley Counties of South Carolina. When a CAC is involved in the investigation and treatment of child abuse, it is more likely for the child and family to achieve better outcomes. Without intervention, child abuse causes lifelong problems.
The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACES) reports that as adults, untreated child abuse is highly correlated with chronic health issues, mental health problems, obesity, drugs and/or alcohol dependency, lower high school graduation rates, repeating the cycle of abuse, criminal behavior, and learning disabilities; all of which contribute to an increased likelihood of poverty and early death. Without intervention, researchers say the lifetime cost of untreated abuse to the community is $210,012 per child in health care costs, social programs, and lost productivity.
There are 17 CACs in South Carolina and over 1,000 CACs across the United States.
According to the National Children’s Alliance, in 2011 CACs provided victim services to more than 279,000 children. Dorchester Children’s Advocacy Center sees an average of 1200 clients each year for services.