Services We Offer
A Child-Friendly Facility:
The Plymouth County Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) is located in a family-friendly victorian home. The house is designed to make children feel comfortable when they are meeting with team members. Before the CAC existed, most children who were the victims of crime were forced to navigate “the system” alone, and rarely received follow-up services. The CAC has changed that by providing services that help strengthen criminal and child protection investigations and support the healing of children and their families. These core services are listed below, and are supported through government, individual, and corporate support.
Case Coordination And Forensic Interviews:
Reports involving children are received through the police, the Department of Children and Families, or schools by the multi-disciplinary team coordinator, who schedules times for families to come to the Center. A child sensitive interview is conducted by specially trained forensic interviewers. Each interview is customized to meet the developmental and psychosocial needs of the individual child. The multi-disciplinary team observes the interview on closed-circuit television. The goal is to interview the child victim only once to reduce trauma and strengthen investigations.
The Center provides extensive services to children and their families, including emergency response capabilities and linkage to mental health services, domestic violence centers, and rape crisis centers. Victim Witness Advocates provide investigation updates, support, and court accompaniment. A Victim Witness Advocate is assigned to each family through the Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office. The Advocate guides and supports the family during and after the investigation process. The Advocate explains the court process, provides status updates, familiarizes the child with the courtroom, and accompanies the family to court.
The Center provides specialized counseling referrals and outreach services. The Center developed a network of providers from specialized agencies to which the family can be referred in their own community. The CAC also has a mental health professional available for consultation with the family.
Investigation and Prosecution:
Professionals from the Department of Children and Families, local and/or State Police, and the District Attorney’s Office all play different roles in the investigation and prosecution of cases involving children. The police conduct criminal investigations, the Department of Children and Families conducts investigations with the overall welfare of the child as the dominant concern, and the District Attorney’s Office prosecutes offenders.
If needed, nurses can conduct on-site, child-sensitive, non-invasive sexual abuse exams to collect evidence and safeguard children’s health.
Culturally Sensitive Services:
All CAC services are customized to meet each family´s cultural needs. Multilingual services will be available in Cape Verdean, Spanish, sign language, and other languages as needed.
Specially trained Child Interview Specialists talk to children about the abuse they have experienced, while team members observe on closed-circuit TV. All child interviews are videotaped. The goal is to reduce trauma to children by limiting the amount of times they need to relate what happened to them.