A Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) provides a comprehensive, culturally competent, multidisciplinary team response to allegations of child abuse and exploitation in a dedicated, child-friendly setting. At a CAC, members of the child protection, law enforcement, prosecution, victim advocacy, medical, and mental health communities work together to provide child victims and their non-offending family members with comprehensive services designed to meet their individual needs.
Every CAC is designed to best serve their community by fostering collaboration among the agencies necessarily involved with children who are abused and/or exploited. Working together, the CAC team evaluates each case for protective and safety concerns, mental health issues, medical treatment, and possible prosecution. Many CAC models exist across the United States. Some operate as non-profit organizations, while others operate under the umbrella of a prosecutor's office, hospital, or mental health agency.
Without intervention, 1/3 of abused and neglected children will later continue the cycle and abuse their own children.
The Middlesex District Attorney's Child Protection Unit opened its doors in 1989. The program was certified as a CAC in 1995, becoming a Charter Member of the National Children's Alliance (then known as the National Network of Children's Advocacy Centers). To ensure their members provide consistent, evidence-based services, the National Children's Alliance (NCA) regularly and rigorously reviews programs to ensure they meet its professional standards. The Middlesex CAC has maintained its accreditation since it opened.
CACs in Massachusetts are supported by the Massachusetts Children's Alliance (MACA), our NCA state chapter, to ensure that children and families have access to high quality, specialized CAC services. MACA is committed to strengthening collaboration, fostering systemic change to protect children, and promoting an environment where all children are treated with dignity and respect.