Child Advocacy Center
The purpose of a Child Advocacy Center (CAC) is to provide a child-friendly, home-like environment designed to meet abused children’s needs for warmth, support and protection. It is an onsite facility that coordinates child and family interviews and investigations and is also home to the Passaic County Multidisciplinary Team (MDT). The MDT is comprised of representatives from the various professional agencies that respond to allegations of child abuse and neglect, including the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP), the Audrey Hepburn Children’s House, St. Joseph’s University Regional Medical Center and Family Intervention Services.
The goals of the CAC are to develop a formal multi-disciplinary response to child abuse which is designed to meet the needs of child victims and their families; to establish a neutral-based facility where interviews of abused children and their families can be conducted; to prevent trauma to the child caused by multiple contacts with different community professionals; to provide children and their families with the needed services and to assist them in regaining maximum functioning; to maintain open communication and case coordination among child maltreatment professionals and agencies involved in child protection efforts. When these goals are met they improve child abuse investigations and prosecutions.
The Passaic County CAC houses the MDT Coordinator, the Child Interview Specialist, the Forensic Nurse Examiner/ Sexual Assault Response Team Coordinator and DCPP personnel.
In 1997, the Passaic County CAC was accepted for full membership in the National Network of Child Advocacy Centers by National Children’s Alliance (NCA). Headquartered in Washington, D.C., NCA is a not-for-profit national organization and accrediting body for CACs across the United States. The organization sets national quality assurance standards for CACs and provides leadership and advocacy for these programs on a national level.
In gaining acceptance for full membership in this organization, the Passaic County CAC met the standards set by NCA. Since then the Passaic County CAC has achieved re-accreditation status in 2012 and 2017.