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The Indiana Chapter is committed to promoting the development, growth and sustainability continuation of children’s advocacy centers in the State of Indiana through education, training, mentoring, collaboration, advocacy, development of resources and legislation.
Tragedy occurs when children are abused, assaulted, or neglected. But tragic events can be made worse by the experience children have when proceeding through the court system. This is where Children’s Advocacy Centers(CACs) come in.
What Happens When Abuse is Reported?
Upon notification of alleged child abuse or assault in Indiana, the Indiana Department of Child and Family Services(DCS) or law enforcement will begin an investigation: a caseworker may visit a home, or police may knock on a door as soon as they’re alerted.
When law enforcement is involved, a child is often taken to a local police station or sheriff’s office. Being in such a place often frightens the child even more.
While being asked to describe a sexual assault, or explaining the abuse they’ve taken from a family, friend, or other adult, they have to interact with strangers in a strange place. Police may be escorting prisoners around while the child is being interviewed.
If a child talks to a police agency, they may have to tell their story again to a prosecutor, again to other investigating officers, again to caseworkers and again to a judge and jury.
Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) seek to change this process. CACs are child-focused organizations located in communities all across Indiana. At a CAC, children can be in a safe, friendly environment–one with toys, comfortable chairs, and friendly, caring adults trained to help them.[/tab]At a Children’s Advocacy Center, a child is interviewed by a trained forensic interviewer. The child tells of their abuse: Discreet recording equipment records the interview for future review by law enforcement, caseworkers, prosecutors, victim advocates, mental health professionals, and the courts.
Interviewers may have small earpieces to listen for questions and feedback from law enforcement and other team members who are in a separate room behind closed-circuit television; the kids interact with one interviewer.
About Indiana Children’s Advocacy Centers (INCACs)
Founded in 1999 with members from Elkhart, Marion, and St. Joseph Counties, INCACs, the Indiana Chapter of National Children’s Alliance, has been helping CACs grow and expand across Indiana to help abused and neglected children. Today, almost every Hoosier community is served by a CAC.
CACs are composed of accredited and associate members of the National Children’s Alliance and professionals from developing centers.
Indiana Children’s Advocacy Centers’ goals include:
- Sharing information, expertise, and technical and professional assistance among CACs.
- Coordinating and providing training for staffs of CACs to enhance their skills.
- Identifying, developing, and sharing funding plans among CACs.
- Ensuring that national best practice standards are used statewide.
- Helping to improve each community’s response to child abuse.
- Securing and disbursing funds to carry out these goals.