This muti-year, multi-site evaluation will study the efficacy
of childrens Advocacy Centers (CACs) for improving investigations
and reducing harmful effects on children and families.
The study will also examine the effects of different CAC
components (e.g. multidisciplinary teams, child-friendly facilities)
and types of CACs. Several
CAC agencies across the United States have been selected to participate
in this evaluation.
Childrens 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. Yet the impact of CACs has never been adequately
evaluated, and the research knowledge base about CACs is limited.
The Crimes against Children Research Center (CCRC)
of the University of New Hampshire has begun a, multi-site evaluation
to study how CACs work and in what ways they are effective.
The study will examine the overall effect of CACs as well
as the effects of different program components and types of CACs. It will assess the impact of CACs on children, families, agencies,
the court system and communities.
Sites consist of a Childrens Advocacy Center
(CAC) community with a matched comparison non-CAC community. Comparison communities are comparable to the
CC community in every way except that they lack the key elements
of a CAC that are thought to change the nature and outcomes of child
abuse investigations. The
participating CACs across the country are:
Childrens Advocacy Center, Dallas, TX
Family Intervention Center, Childrens Hospital, Pittsburgh,
Low Country Childrens Center, Charleston, SC
National Childrens Advocacy Center, Huntsville, AL
With support from the College of Criminal Justice
of Sam Houston State University, the Collins County Childrens
Advocacy Center in Plano, Texas is also participating.
We have recently finished the initial phase of
the project, the Evaluability Assessment.
An evaluability assessment (EA) examines the readiness of
an organization, system or community for an evaluation.
With regard to the CAC evaluation, EA will be used to assess
whether human services and law enforcement agencies in the sites
can provide sufficient data of adequate quality to insure a conceptually
sound, rigorous, statistically powerful evaluation.
During the Evaluability Assessment we completed
the following, which may be of interest or use to you, we only ask
that you credit the information to the proper source.
The development of a site specific Logic Model which represents a capsule, a graphical
way to depict the theory underlying CACs. This can help guide evaluation research design, and data analysis.
Logic Models will vary across sites, depending on the nature
of the site;
A draft listing of all Case Data variables
we are seeking from client information systems, which we call the
Data Dictionary. CACs and investigating
agencies already collect in their practice much of the data needed
by our study in their client information systems (CIS) or paper
files. This information
Family demographic and background characteristics
Information on the nature of the alleged
Disclosure and investigation characteristics
Characteristics of the CAC and other agency
Information on the criminal justice and
child protective response;
Information on the services provided to
A paper-and-pencil survey conducted by CCRC
about the importance of different outcomes in each site area has
been conducted which we have named the Outcome
Survey. This allows us to know in more detail what
outcomes each community values from its CAC.
A sample size of N=69 has been evaluated and Outcome Survey Results are available
Currently, we will begin a Prospective Evaluation
of the sites shortly. In
order to keep the CAC community and other interested individuals
current on the progress of the National Evaluation, we will periodically
update this site with information about the evaluation and links
to documents that we think might be helpful in understanding the
Additionally, we have provided a link to an annotated
bibliography of references that we have compiled related to issues
of interest to CAC stakeholders.
This list represents, in our minds, the research and reviews
that are most informative on such topics as child abuse investigations,
the role and response of criminal justice in child maltreatment,
medical evaluations of child abuse, effects of prosecution on child
victims, childrens testimony, and multidisciplinary teams.
We hope that you find this useful.
For more information, contact:
Crimes Against Children Research Center
126 Horton Social Science Center
Durham, NH 03824
Ph: (603) 862-0576