Start a CACThere are several steps a community can take to assist them in identifying local leadership, securing area resources, and laying a strong, lasting foundation that will ensure development of a successful children's advocacy center.
Assess local needs
Collect the following statistics from the past three years:
- Number of sexual abuse investigations conducted by Dept. of Children and Family Servicies (DCFS)
- Number of investigations and arrests related to crimes against children recorded by all local law enforcement agencies
- Number of grand jury presentations connected to alleged crimes against children in the projected service area
- Number of indictments connected to alleged crimes against children in the projected service area
- Number of convictions/prosecutions connected to alleged crimes against children in the projected services area
- Number of cases dismissed connected to alleged crimes against children in the projected service area
- Number of juvenile adjudications connected to alleged crimes against children in the projected service area
- Optional: Statistical information from medical and mental health providers indicating the number of child abuse victims seeking services during the past three years This data will provide a comprehensive overview of current strengths and weaknesses in the child abuse investigation, prosecution and intervention systems within your own community. These statistics can serve as a roadmap for determining the scope of the local program, what services it should offer, what the target population looks like, which local agencies need to be involved and at what level. In addition, once the local center is operational, this initial needs assessment will provide an important benchmark for determining if the program is truly making a difference in these cases and in the lives of child victims.
Initiate dialogue among local child abuse agencies
Include agencies such as:
- Child protective services (Arkansas Department of Health Service Child and Family Services)
- Local law enforcement to include Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children Division
- Adult and juvenile prosecutors
- Medical and mental health professionals
- Multidisciplinary team coordinator
Use dialogue as an opportunity to assess levels of interest and commitment regarding formation of a multidisciplinary team and development of a CAC. If a multidisciplinary team already exists, determine their interest in supporting a CAC.
Identify Community LeadershipIdentify and involve local community leaders with an interest in issues related to child abuse victims and their families. Assess level of interest and commitment related to formation and support of a CAC.
Identify Community ResourcesIdentify and communicate with individuals, groups, businesses, and organizations that have an interest in the well-being of local children. Identify community resources including people, finances, facilities, materials, services, etc. that might be useful in the establishment, development, and maintenance of a CAC. By contacting CACar as early as possible in the development stages of a CAC, communities can benefit from the wealth of collective experience of successful, established CACs throughout Arkansas. CACar can provide resource materials, public presentations, and training. CACar can also provide ongoing direction and technical assistance for communities in the early stages of CAC development.