Child Advocacy Center Model
In 1985, Former Congressman Robert E. “Bud” Cramer (AL), who was then a District Attorney in Madison County, Alabama, saw the need to create a better system to help abused children. At that time, the social service and the criminal justice systems were not working together in an effective manner that children could trust, adding to the children’s emotional distress, and creating a segmented, repetitious, and often frightening experience for the child victims. Cramer envisioned a Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) approach to child abuse cases, bringing together law enforcement, criminal justice, child protective services, and medical and mental health workers onto one coordinated team to improve case outcomes.
Since 2005, Pat’s Place Child Advocacy Center has worked to coordinate the investigation and treatment of the most serious cases of child abuse in Mecklenburg County. All the services children need – forensic interviews, medical care, advocacy support and counseling – are now offered under one roof in a safe, child-friendly location. Pat’s Place is modeled on the simple but powerful concept of coordination between community agencies and professionals involved in the system of child protection.
Child Advocacy Center Advantages
- Reduces the number of interviews a child victim must endure, which reduces the trauma to the child
- Creates a comfortable, child-friendly environment for the investigation as opposed to the environment typically experienced in a hospital emergency room or police station
- Greatly reduces the time victims and their families spend assisting with the investigation because all services are provided at one location – what once took weeks can often be achieved in hours
- Reduces police and Child Protective Services investigative time
- Enables quicker prosecutions through more efficient case processing
- Increases communication between agencies for an improved understanding of their roles and case need