Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC)
We lessen the emotional trauma to child victims by providing direct services to child victims and by coordinating the investigation, assessment, prosecution and treatment of sexual and serious physical abuse. The CAC serves as the safe, child-friendly place that alleged victims are brought by Child Protective Services or law enforcement. Services are coordinated with partner agencies in a Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) collaborative approach to help these children and their non-offending family members cope, heal and move forward from the abuse and the trauma that results. The CAC is affiliated with CAC TX ™ and National Children’s Alliance.
CAC employs a professional staff of clinicians, social workers, advocates and other professionals. We provide an array of services (all free of charge) including forensic interviews, victim and family advocacy, medical referrals, therapy/mental health services, case coordination and criminal court advocacy. All services are offered in English and Spanish.
The CAC served 3,347 children and families in 2020. Many children receive multiple services and may be regular clients at the CAC for 2-3 years while their healing occurs and their cases are in the criminal court system awaiting resolution.
The CAC works collaboratively with partner agencies including Child Protective Services (CPS), law enforcement and the Child Abuse Division of the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office. Many of our partners are co-housed in our building to facilitate communication and case management.
Our CAC staff reviews all state intakes of child abuse and facilitates the coordination with CPS and law enforcement to ensure that no child falls through the cracks and all children receive the appropriate CAC services. Enhanced coordination of these complex cases has been proven to lead to better outcomes and less trauma to children.
- Forensic Interviewing
- Victim and Family Advocacy
- Therapy and Mental Health Services
- Case Management and Review
- Medical Referrals
- Criminal Court Advocacy
- Multi-Disciplinary Team Enhancement (MEP)
- Mentor Program
Alleged victims of abuse are referred to the CAC for a forensic interview. The child is able to talk to a specially trained professional in an emotionally safe and child friendly environment. The child is interviewed one-on-one by the interviewer and the interview is video recorded. The child’s CPS caseworker and/or detective are in another room and are able to listen to the child live. This coordination of efforts reduces the number of times a child has to be interviewed and lessens the trauma to the child.
Victim and Family Advocacy
Social workers provide support, crisis intervention and resource referrals to help families during this difficult time. Families are able to meet with licensed social workers who can help them process their feelings surrounding the abuse of their children. They will also refer children and family members for other services they may need. Family advocates are available to the families from the moment they arrive at our building until they heal and/or their case is closed.
Licensed therapists employ a variety of trauma-focused, evidence-based modalities including Play Therapy, Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TRCBT). We offer individual and group therapy and provide therapy to siblings and non-offending caregivers. Children are able to participate in treatment for as long as they need to help them heal from their trauma, with the ultimate goal of helping them become healthy adults.
Case Management and Review
All cases are staffed and regularly reviewed in a bi-weekly Case Review Team Meeting attended by 40-50 CAC staff and representatives at all our partner agencies: CPS, law enforcement, District Attorney’s Office and Medical. This collaborative process facilitates communication, moving cases along efficiently, and ensuring that no case falls through the cracks.
We partner with the University of Texas CARE Program and Harris Health System who provide sexual assault examinations, clinical oversight and expert testimony. Exams are conducted at the Texas Medical Center’s Ben Taub Hospital Forensic Nursing Program and at a new clinic in Access Health. The Texas Crime Victim Compensation Funds pay for all sexual assault exams so that they family is not burdened by this expense.
Criminal Court Advocacy
If a child’s case is indicted, each child their family is assigned to a Criminal Court Advocate whose role is to help support them as they go through the criminal justice system. This added support helps families deal with the complex processes involved in criminal cases. They will also ensure that the children and families are referred to all of the services that they may need during this time. The Criminal Court Advocates are with the families throughout the entire criminal case, and accompany the child and the family in court if they testify in the trial or hearing.
Multi-Disciplinary Team Enhancement (MEP)
A dedicated CAC staff members reviews all state intakes reporting child abuse, assesses if they meet criteria for sexual abuse or severe physical abuse, and if so, refers the case to CPS and law enforcement to schedule a forensic interview. The CAC acts as the coordinating entity among our partner agencies to ensure that all parties are informed.
Community volunteers are trained to serve as mentors to children to add another layer of support and to be positive role model for the children.