Child Abuse Assessment Centers operate from a medical model and are a collaboration of community agencies, partnering together for efficient, more effective investigations of child abuse allegations. The mission of these centers is to provide a coordinated, multi-disciplinary, child-sensitive response to allegations of child abuse through systematic investigative responses designed to protect the child, provide support to nonoffending caregivers, and ensure effective prosecution of offenders. Goals include:
- Administration of competent, quality child abuse assessments to child victims.
- Provide a nurturing environment for victims and family members.
- Provide appropriate treatment referrals.
- Coordinate and network with multidisciplinary team.
Child abuse assessment centers consist of professionals with expertise in child sexual abuse
, including law enforcement
, social service agencies
, mental health professionals
, child/family advocacy
, and prosecutors
. These child abuse professionals work together to reduce the trauma that children experience as a result of the sexual abuse, disclosure
, and investigation
. This collaboration:
- Reduces the number of interviews a child victim must endure,
- Reduces the amount of time victims and family members spend in the investigation,
- Reduces police and child protective services investigative time, Increases communication between agencies,
- Enables more efficient case processing and quicker prosecutions.
Children are referred to Child Abuse Assessment Centers by child welfare workers, law enforcement, and medical providers, for evaluation as a result of suspected sexual abuse, physical abuse, serious neglect, exposure to drug endangerment, or exposure to domestic violence. Medical examinations and forensic interviews occur in a child-friendly setting designed to minimize trauma
to the child and make the investigation process less frightening to the child and child's family. Children receive head-to-toe medical check-ups, and the physician discusses with the mother, if she is present in the Center, the results of the check-up, including recommendations for minor physical problems needing follow-up. Forensic interviews are conducted by trained forensic interviewers
and follow structured protocol to facilitate obtaining information from the child without leading questions or other techniques that might prove problematic if the case proceeds to criminal trial. Mothers are interviewed in depth about the child's disclosure, behaviors, and ongoing mental, emotional, and physical health. Treatment services are recommended for victims and family members.