Backgrounder: Child Advocacy Centres

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Child Advocacy Centres (CAC) adopt a seamless, coordinated and collaborative approach to addressing the needs of child and youth victims of crime. CACs seek to minimize system-induced trauma by providing a child-friendly setting for a young victim or witness and his or her family.

Child Advocacy Centres bring together a multi-disciplinary team of police, child protection, medical services, mental health services, and victim services. Professional services offered by CACs include coordinated forensic interviews; examination of the child by a medical professional; victim advocacy, including court preparation, support and trauma assessment; and counselling.

CACs help children and their families navigate the justice system in a number of ways. These include providing a child or youth with a safe and comfortable environment in which to be interviewed by criminal justice professionals and minimizing the number of interviews and questions directed at a child, thereby minimizing system-induced trauma. CACs may also provide education and training to justice professionals on best practices for interviewing child victims and witnesses. As an example, interviews recorded by video are an effective method for gathering valuable information that can help both the young victim and the justice system. Ultimately, CACs lead to better communication between agencies supporting young victims.

It has been shown that investigations conducted by CACs are cost-effective and can expedite decision making by Crown prosecutors laying criminal charges. Parents whose children receive services from CACs are more satisfied with the investigation process and interview procedures, and those children who attend CACs are generally satisfied with the investigation and are more likely to state they were not scared during the forensic interviewing process.

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Government of Canada
May 2013