The Child Advocacy Center of Nassau County
In Nassau County, over 7,000 children are reported abused each year. The offender is most often someone the child knows, trusts and loves.
Abuse is one of the most traumatic things that can happen to a child. Often when abuse is disclosed by the child, trauma is made worse by the many investigations and interviews that exist to assist the child. These interviews often take place in institutional settings that offer little privacy and comfort. The mission of the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) is to reduce the trauma experienced by child abuse victims by providing them with a child-focused environment, timely treatment and service delivery, more efficient case investigation, and increased offender prosecution.
A Partnership to Ease the Pain of Child Abuse
Since 1986, the Coalition Against Child Abuse & Neglect and the Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) have worked to ease the pain of child sexual abuse by collaborating on the investigation and intervention process. Members of this inter-agency team include representatives from Nassau County’s Child Protective Services section of the Department of Social Services, the Nassau County Police Department’s Special Victims Unit, the District Attorney’s Sex Offense and Domestic Violence Bureau, Suspected Child Abuse & Neglect (SCAN) Center at the Nassau University Medical Center, the Department of Mental Health, and CCAN staff. The establishment of a Child Advocacy Center was the next logical step toward achieving the ultimate goals of this MDT by providing a child-friendly site for conducting joint interviews and a home base for the professionals to meet and collaborate.
Children who come to the Child Advocacy Center are greeted by sensitively trained staff or volunteers and escorted, with their family, to a private, comfortable waiting room. There is a well-equipped playroom for young children and all areas of the Child Advocacy Center, including interview and exam rooms, are warmly and cheerfully decorated.
Center Services Include:
- Child victim advocates who provide support and information to the child/family
- Specially designed interview and observation rooms that promote the multidisciplinary approach
- Medical, mental health, and legal referrals
- A medical consult room equipped for exams by specially trained pediatricians
- Follow-up case tracking and ongoing coordination of services to families
- Training, workshops and consultation for professionals and the community
- Reduce the number of investigative interviews the child victim must endure through joint interviewing by all the professionals involved in the case
- Conduct interviews of the victim at a child-friendly site designed to put the child at ease
- Enhance evidence collection for effective criminal prosecution as well as protective action in child protective proceedings
- Provide the child with immediate access to medical and therapeutic services
- Strengthen prosecution while minimizing the negative impact of the court process on the child
- Train professionals and community members on effective child abuse prevention and intervention