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 and advocates. They 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 2,468 children and families in 2019. 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 settlement.
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 now reviews all state intakes of child abuse and refers those that meet sexual or serious physical abuse criteria to the CAC for forensic interviews and other services as a part of our Multi-Disciplinary Team Enhancement (MEP) Program. They coordinate with CPS and law enforcement to ensure that no child falls through the cracks without getting the attention they deserve.
- 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
Specially-trained forensic of child abuse victims are employed to be a safe person to whom the child will tell her story. The child is interviewed one-on-one by the interviewer and the interview is video recorded so that no other adults need be in the interview room. Our “best practices” model is for there to be only one interview and for it to be conducted immediately following the child’s disclosure. This is to prevent the child from being re-traumatized with multiple interviews.
Victim and Family Advocacy
Social workers provide support, access resources to help families during this difficult time, and can 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 comforted by therapy dogs.
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 provides 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 the El Franco Clinic. Law enforcement pays for all sexual assault exams so that the family is not burdened by this expense.
Criminal Court Advocacy
If a child’s case is indicted, each child is supported by a Criminal Court Advocate whose role is to help the child and family be supported should she have to testify in the court and accompany the child to court.
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.