It is the mission of A Caring Place Child Advocacy Center to be the leading advocate in the healing and prevention of child abuse. It’s our mission statement that runs hand-in-hand with helping victims through the child warfare and criminal justice systems.
At A Caring Place, we provide children with the opportunity to tell us what may have happened to them in a safe environment. Ohio Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers (ONCAC) explains that child advocacy centers (CACs) provide a neutral, forensic interview that allows the child to explain what may have happened to them in a one-time forensic interview. Advocates then work with a Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) comprised of medical and mental health professionals, child protective services, law enforcement, prosecution, victim advocates, and other professionals to decide how to best help the child and the family. We also provide education to our local communities to prevent future abuse and trauma for children.
As we help these families through their experiences, we are also increasing the chances of positive outcomes within the case and the children’s lives. A study done in 2008 showed that overall, having an advocate helped victims get the services they needed as well as an increase in
the probability of a fair outcome in criminal proceedings. One statement in the research article shows that when advocates are involved and provide referrals, it creates a higher chance of the case leaning in the victim’s direction. The conclusions of the research stated the continuous use of victim assistance programs and advocates is an empowering tool for victims and families throughout the criminal justice system.
Another study shows that 54% of victims who experience a violent crime go to an advocacy center after reporting to police. The same study shows that victims who experience nonviolent crimes were more likely to reach out to victim services and medical professionals than police. A key note from this study is that victims of sexual violence were initially more likely to only report the crime to an advocacy center than to medical professionals or police. This information shows us that advocacy centers are crucial in providing services for victims such as mental health, physical help, and a safe place to explain what has happened to them.