Children’s Advocacy Center
We believe every child deserves a safe place to be heard.
The Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) acts as a neutral, third-party hub whose purpose is coordinating services and safe, child-sensitive support to children and their non-offending family members. The CAC also provides evidence-based, age-appropriate prevention education to the DeKalb County community.
Research shows the CAC's one-time interview with a specially trained forensic interviewer relieves some of the additional trauma the child would experience with several separate interviews.
The CAC also provides:
- Referrals for medical evaluation
- Trauma assessments
- Referrals for counseling and caregiver support through the Center for Counseling
- In-person support during court proceedings
- Adult and Youth Erin's Law child sexual abuse prevention education
- Community prevention and awareness presentations
Duo Dog Laddie
Duo Dog Laddie comforts and supports children before forensic interviews, counseling, and other times when they might need extra reassurance. He does the same for our staff!
Laddie was trained by Duo Dogs in St. Louis, Missouri, and he joined Family Service Agency in February 2022. He is a highly trained professional who approaches his job with enthusiasm and boundless affection. He loves to meet new people, especially the children FSA serves.
When Laddie isn't busy with his very important work, he likes napping, getting pets, eating snacks, and hanging out with his brother, Cooper!
Research has shown that a dog at a Children’s Advocacy Center lends a homelike atmosphere to the center. A child encountering a calm, friendly dog at the CAC feels they are visiting someone’s home and that the facility dog lives there. The presence of an engaging, professionally trained facility dog can be an essential part of creating a sense of safety and security for children and their families. (Courthouse Dogs Foundation, 2015).
Why do we do what we do?
Research shows that 1 in 10 children have been, are being, or will be the victim of sexual abuse before their 18th birthday. This is a staggering statistic, saying that at least 2 children in every Pre-K – 12th grade classroom is sexually abused before they graduate. It is also quite different than the often quoted “1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys” statistic.
What has changed regarding these numbers? The previously quoted statistic came from a study published by the Center for Disease Control about 25 years ago. Darkness to Light published a paper in 2013 outlining a new estimate of child sexual abuse which reported the 1 in 10 statistic.
The CAC coordinates investigations of child abuse (both sexual and physical) allegations as well as trafficking and exploitation. We work closely with our multi-disciplinary partners, including the state’s attorney, DCFS, law enforcement, medical team, trauma team, advocates, and forensic interviewers to ensure every child and non-offending family member gets the safety, treatment, and justice they deserve.
Child Advocacy Centers have been in existence for more than 30 years, and we have learned that the comprehensive and multi-disciplinary approach serves to lessen a child’s trauma. Outcomes show that the CAC increases felony prosecution of child sexual abusers, leads to increased referrals for trauma services, and increases non-offending caregivers’ satisfaction with the investigative process.
24/7 Runaway and Lockout Support
Who can receive these services?
Youth 11 to 17 years of age who:
- Are at risk of involvement with the child welfare or juvenile justice systems
- Parents will not allow them to return home
- Have run away from home
- Are beyond the control of parents and in immediate physical danger
- Are homeless without their parents