The Child Safety Center of White County opened its doors in April of 2008 as the tenth child advocacy center (CAC) in the state of Arkansas. There are currently 13 child advocacy centers in Arkansas and over 700 across the United States. As a child-focused, multi-disciplinary response to child abuse, the Child Safety Center of White County was established to prevent the re-victimization of sexually abused children by the system’s response to their cases. The “multi-disciplinary team approach” involves local law enforcement, the department of child and family services (DHS), The Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children Division, prosecution, mental health, medical, family/victim advocacy, and other resources in a model community response to child sexual abuse. Professionals across this nation have recognized that by focusing on abused children, they can work together to achieve better outcomes for young victims and families.
Goals of the Child Advocacy Center include:
- Developing a comprehensive multidisciplinary, developmentally and culturally appropriate response to child abuse which is designed to meet the needs of children and their families in a specific community
- Establishing a neutral, child-friendly facility where interviews and/or services for abused children can be provided
- Preventing trauma to the child caused by multiple, duplicative contacts with different professionals
- Providing needed mental health treatment and other services to children and families
- Maintaining open communication, information sharing, and case coordination among community professionals and agencies involved in child protection efforts so that case decision-making and policy development are enhanced
- Coordinating and tracking investigative, prosecutorial, child protection and treatment efforts so that cases do not “fall through the cracks”
- Holding more offenders accountable through improved prosecution of child abuse cases
- Enhancing professional skills necessary to effectively respond to cases of child abuse through cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural training and support
- Enhancing community awareness and understanding of child abuse.