Currently, this approach is considered to be a best practice in responding to child sexual abuse in the United States. Throughout the country, there are now more than 900 Children Advocacy Centers which served more than 300,000 children last year, and this model has now been implemented in more than 33 countries throughout the world.
Once signs of abuse are recognized and reported, each case is then evaluated by Social Services. Validated cases of child sexual abuse are referred to Valley CAC, where a forensic interview is conducted by a trained professional and observed in a separate room by members of the multidisciplinary team (MDT). Depending upon the case, children and family members may receive advocacy, medical and mental health treatment, and other essential resource referrals.
The Multidisciplinary Team concept was a core aspect of the original Child Advocacy Center model developed by Bud Cramer during the early 1980’s. Previously in the United States, the response to child sexual abuse was poorly coordinated between the various entities with a responsibility for conducting the initial investigation and response to child sexual abuse. This innovative model recognized that to effectively respond to this issue, a unique public-private partnership was essential, and the various agencies and departments responsible for the protection of children must be united in a collaborative effort to respond with the understanding that no one agency by itself could assure the protection of children.