Multi-Site Evaluation of Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs)

Summary: The Multi-Site Evaluation of CACs, funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) was designed to evaluate the impact of CACs on children, families, systems, and communities. Using a quasi-experimental design, data from over 1000 cases were collected from four participating CACs and from communities without CACs.

Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs) are endorsed as the “state of the art” intervention for effective, sensitive investigation of allegations of child abuse. The core element of CACs, the multidisciplinary investigation team, is used in hundreds of communities across the country. Those familiar with CACs believe that the centers have a wide array of positive effects, from reducing stress on children and families, to increasing the yield in accuracy and information of investigations, to promoting more effective criminal justice and human service responses.

Goals and Objectives

The Crimes against Children Research Center (CCRC) of the University of New Hampshire has conducted a multi-site evaluation to study how CACs work and in what ways they are effective. The study examined the impact of CACs on children, families, agencies, the court system and communities. Sites consist of a Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) community with a matched comparison non-CAC community. The participating CACs were:


Results from this project found that that CACs increase coordination of investigations and use of medical examinations, and lead to greater satisfaction among non-offending parents of alleged victims, among others. Papers with more detail on these findings and others can be found by following the link below. For a summary of all findings from the project, please see Cross, T. P., Jones, L. M., Walsh, W. A., Simone, M., Kolko, D. Szczepanski, J., et al.  (2008). Evaluating children’s advocacy centers’ response to child sexual abuse. (OJJDP Bulletin, NCJ#:  218530). Washington, DC:  Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

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