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What is a Children's Advocacy Center?

Hawaii's Children's Justice Centers use the nationally recognized Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) model of service delivery.  This is a child-first model, putting the needs of alleged child victims above any other agency or organization.

 

When police or child protective services believe a child is being abused, the child is brought to the CAC—a safe, child-focused environment—by a caregiver or other “safe” adult. At the CAC, the child tells their story once to a trained interviewer who knows the right questions to ask in a way that does not not retraumatize the child. Then, a team that includes medical professionals, law enforcement, mental health, prosecution, child protective services, victim advocacy, and other professionals make decisions together about how to help the child based on the interview. CACs offer therapy and medical exams, plus courtroom preparation, victim advocacy, case management, and other services. This is called the multidisciplinary team (MDT) response and is a core part of the work of CACs.

 

As seen in the following national data, this model has several advantages:

  • The CAC model saves court, child protection, and investigative dollars averaging $1,000 per child abuse case compared to non-CAC communities.

  • Using the CAC model has resulted in increased successful prosecutions of child abuse perpetrators. One study shows an average 94% conviction rate.

  • Child victims of sexual abuse who receive services at centers using the CAC model are four times more likely to receive forensic medical exams and increased referrals for mental health treatment.

  • Research also demonstrates caregivers in CAC cases are more satisfied with the investigation than those from non-CAC comparison sites, and a national study found that 97% of parents would tell others to seek help at centers that apply CAC principles.

hAWAII'S CHILDREN'S JUSTICE CENTERS

Hawaii's Children's Justice Centers were established as a Judiciary program in 1986, leading the way nationally in adopting the Children's Advocacy Center model as a response to child abuse allegations. In 2001, new legislation changed the name to the Hawaii Children's Justice Center program. 

To learn more about the the CJCs of Hawaii, please visit their Hawaii State Judiciary website.

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