April 28, 2015
For Immediate Release
Contact: Tim Connolly 508-368-7236
WORCESTER – The Worcester County District Attorney’s Office’s Child Advocacy Center has received national accreditation.
The CAC helps the most vulnerable victims and witnesses of crime to talk about their horrific experience in a comfortable and friendly environment, according to District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.
Often the perpetrator of sexual abuse is a family member or trusted friend. It can be difficult for a youngster to talk about what happened and it can be impossible for some victims to understand what happened. If the child has to tell the story over and over again to strangers, he or she is re-victimized.
“The Children’s Advocacy Center is a place where some of our youngest victims can feel safe,” Mr. Early said. “We’re very proud that our CAC gained accreditation from the National Children’s Alliance. And as part of Child Abuse Awareness Month we want everyone to know about our CAC and services it provides.”
Besides law enforcement and prosecutors, the CAC has victim/witness advocates on site. Medical and mental health referrals can be from the CAC. The team can watch or monitor the interview without intimidating the young victim or witness.
More than 350 interviews were conducted with children between the ages of 4 and 18 last year. The average age was about 8 years old. Although most of those interviewed were victims, some were witnesses of a crime.
The National Children’s Alliance has 10 standards for accreditation, and last fall after a site visit the alliance determined that the Worcester County District Attorney’s Children’s Advocacy Center met all 10 standards. The CAC has a multi-disciplinary team, cultural competency and diversity, forensic interviews, victim support and advocacy, medical evaluation, mental health services, case review, case tracking, organizational capacity and is a child-focused center.
“I want to thank all of our partners in this especially the Child Protection Program at the University of Massachusetts-Memorial Medical Center,” Mr. Early said. “Also thank you to the Child Trauma Training Center, the Department of Children and Families and our State Police Detectives assigned to the district attorney’s office and the 60 law enforcement agencies throughout the county.”