JustFacts

Melissa Lindsay
Research and Statistics Division

© GOUVERNMENT OF CANADA, 2013-12-05

The views expressed herein are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice Canada.

Children’s Advocacy Centres (CACs) "are a seamless, coordinated and collaborative approach to addressing the needs of child victims or children who have witnessed crime. CACs seek to minimize system-induced trauma by providing a child-friendly setting for child victims or witnesses and their families."[1] This fact sheet provides an overview of research findings on several features of Children’s Advocacy Centres that are based on research conducted in the United States.

Variability

There is much variability among CACs in how they are structured and the processes that they follow.[2] CACs can differ in their community characteristics, organizational base, developmental stage, referral processes, interagency involvement and relationships, and agency objectives. This variability affects "who the CACs serve, what CACs do, and what outcomes they might have."[3]

Coordination and Collaboration

Communities with Children’s Advocacy Centres (CACs) use more coordinated and collaborative investigations than communities without CACs, including more multidisciplinary team interviews, videotaped interviews, and joint investigations with child protection agencies and the police.[4]

Forensic Interviewing in Child-Friendly Facilities

Children who receive services from a CAC are more likely to be interviewed in a child-friendly facility than children who do not receive services from CAC.[5]

Forensic Medical Exams

Children who receive services from CACs are more likely to receive a forensic medical examination than children who receive services from a non-CAC organization.[6] 

Mental Health Services

Children’s advocacy centres refer more children for mental health services than non-CACs.[7]

Parent and Child Satisfaction with Investigation

  • Parents whose children receive services from CACs are generally satisfied with the services received and are more satisfied with the investigation process and interview procedures than parents whose children receive services from a non-CAC.[8]
  • Children who attend CACs are generally satisfied with the investigation experience and are more likely to state that they were not scared during the forensic interview compared to children in comparison communities without a CAC.[9]

Criminal Justice Outcomes

One study found that the charging decision time is shorter when a CAC is involved in comparison to communities without a CAC.[10]

Cost Savings

Investigations conducted by CACs are cost effective;[11] one study found that investigations conducted by a CAC resulted in a 36% cost savings when compared to investigations conducted by a non-CAC.[12]


  • [1]Department of Justice Canada, "Backgrounder: Government of Canada Announces Funding for Child Advocacy Centres across Canada," news release, October 2010, http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/news-nouv/nr-cp/2010/doc_32556.html  (accessed June 28, 2013).
  • [2]Theodore P. Cross et al., "Evaluating Children’s Advocacy Centers’ Response to Child Sexual Abuse," Juvenile Justice Bulletin, August 2008, https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/218530.pdf (accessed June 28, 2013).
  • [3]Wendy Walsh, Lisa Jones and Theodore Cross. "Children’s Advocacy Centers: One Philosophy, Many Models," American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children Advisor 15, no. 3 (2003): 4, http://unh.edu/ccrc/pdf/cv80.pdf (accessed June 28, 2013).
  • [4]Theodore P. Cross et al., "Evaluating Children’s Advocacy Centers."; Theodore P. Cross et al., "Child forensic interviewing in Children’s Advocacy Centers: Empirical data on a practice model," Child Abuse and Neglect 31 (2007): 1031-1052, http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/pdf/cv108.pdf (accessed June 28, 2013).
  • [5]Theodore P. Cross et al., "Child Forensic Interviewing."
  • [6]Wendy A. Walsh et al., "Which Sexual Abuse Victims Receive a Forensic Medical Examination? The impact of Children’s Advocacy Centers," Child Abuse and Neglect 31 (2007): 1053-1068, http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/pdf/cv111.pdf (accessed June 28, 2013).
  • [7]Theodore P. Cross et al., "Evaluating Children’s Advocacy Centers."
  • [8]Lisa M. Jones et al., "Do Children’s Advocacy Centers Improve Families’ Experiences of Child Sexual Abuse Investigations?" Child Abuse and Neglect 31 (2007): 1069 -1085, http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/pdf/cv124.pdf (accessed June 28, 2013).
  • [9]Ibid.
  • [10]Wendy A. Walsh et al., "How Long to Prosecute Child Sexual Abuse for a Community Using a Children’s Advocacy Center and Two Comparison Communities?" Child Maltreatment 13, no. 1 (2008): 3-13l, http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/pdf/how_long_to_prosecute.pdf (accessed June 28, 2013).
  • [11]Washington State Association of Children’s Advocacy Centers, "2008 WSACAC Legislative Committee Position Statement," 2008, http://www.wsacac.org/index.php?s=2529 (accessed June 28, 2013).
  • [12]Amy Shadoin et al., "Executive summary: Findings from the NCAC cost-benefit analysis of -community responses to child maltreatment," (National Children’s Advocacy Center, 2006), http://www.nationalcac.org/professionals/research/CBA%20Executive%20Summary.pdf (accessed June 28, 2013).
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