The Need

In a perfect world, children live in safe, nurturing environments. But our world is not perfect. It is a harsh reality that child abuse occurs all too frequently. More than 1500 children are confirmed as victims of child abuse in Alachua County each year. Too often these young victims are further traumatized by the very system designed to help them.
Until recently, these children were shuffled among agencies, from the police department to the hospital to the mental health center to the prosecutor's office. They have been asked to tell the story of their abuse over and over again. Understandably, after the third or fourth interview many children's stories become disjointed, thus weakening the prosecutor's case against the accused offender. The children were traumatized twice -- once by the abuser and again by those trying to help. The fragmented system did not offer children and families the support and services they needed to begin the journey toward healing.

A Better Way

In 1998, a group of dedicated individuals from agencies who handle child abuse recognized a need for change. The primary focus was placed on the child victim and non-offending family members. This group began working as a team to establish an advocacy center that would unite all agencies working on behalf of child abuse victims and promote a compassionate community response.

The Center

The Child Advocacy Center (The Center or CAC) in Gainesville provides a child friendly, safe and supportive environment for abused and neglected children. Through the Center, social workers, counselors, law enforcement officers, state attorneys, victim advocates, Guardians Ad Litem, and medical professionals work as a team to coordinate investigations and interventions for each child abuse case, thus expediting the child's time in the legal system. Combining the wisdom and professional knowledge of a "multidisciplinary team" ensures that children are not re-victimized by the system and that they and their families are provided the support and services needed.

  • Prevents further trauma to the child by greatly reducing the number of interviews
    he or she must undergo.
  • Expedites the child's time in the legal system.
  • Coordinates a comprehensive multidisciplinary team response to child abuse.
  • Maintains open communication and case coordination among professionals and agencies that deal with child abuse cases.
  • Provides the child and his or her family with services and support needed to heal.
  • Provides training for professionals, volunteers and the community about child abuse.
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