Child Advocacy consists of individuals, professionals and advocacy organizations who speak out on the best interests of children. An individual or organization engaging in advocacy that seeks to protect children’s rights which may be abridged or abused in a number of areas due to a number of circumstances including domestic, physical, and sexual abuse, and/or neglect.
The Idea: The birth of Child Advocacy Centers (CAC’s) began when former congressman Robert Cramer identified the lack of communication between social services and criminal justice services in cases of abused children. His idea spread and ultimately lead to the beginning of CAC’s around the United States.
The Beginning: Robert Cramer again helped to develop the CAC model of a Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) approach. This approach brings together a group of individuals; law enforcement, criminal justice, child protective services, and medical and mental health workers. This group works together to create what we know today as a Child Advocacy Centers. Child Advocacy Centers soon gained popularity in the late 1980’s, and the National Children’s Advocacy Center was established in 1985 in Alabama due to the great number of occurrences of child sexual abuse. In 1988, children’s advocacy centers around the country joined forces to establish the National Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers (Now named National Children’s Alliance or NCA) which serves as the home-base for all Child Advocacy Centers.
The Present: There are now approximately 795 CACs around the united states. In 2011, these CACs served 269,000 children, a number that has doubled in the past decade! (Stephens, Martinez, & Braun, 2012). The Child Advocacy Center of Lapeer was opened in 2008, and since 2009 we have collaborated with other local agencies to provide more resources for the children in Lapeer County, as well as to raise awareness of child sexual assault and prevention around our community. CAC Lapeer has grown tremendously including providing forensic interviews, medical examinations, counseling services and prevention programs. Our goal is to provide a safe, supportive, caring environment for all. The Child Advocacy Center of Lapeer County and our partners are the front-line responders in Lapeer County to reports of child physical and sexual abuse. CAC Lapeer is the County’s only non-profit organization that coordinates the efforts of child protection staff, law enforcement professionals, family advocates, medical experts and mental health clinicians under one roof. All of our services are aimed at protecting children, seeking justice and reducing trauma so that children and families may begin the healing process. These services are free of charge to every client. Our mission is to reduce trauma to children during the investigation and intervention of alleged sexual or severe physical abuse through advocacy, education, intervention, and treatment. As the CAC movement continues to grow we hope to continue lighting the way for our children.