What is the Children’s Advocacy Center?
The Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) lessens the trauma to children who have been physically or sexually abused, or who have witnessed a crime or violent act. At the CAC’s facility, Hope House, children can disclose their experiences to a trained professional in a safe and comfortable atmosphere. The CAC also offers follow-up counseling.
Who brings children to the CAC?
By agreement, St. Tammany and Washington Parish child protection and law enforcement agencies refer cases to the CAC whenever an investigation involves a child.
What should a child expect when they arrive at the CAC?
First, children are welcomed into a child-friendly greeting area. Once comfortable, a specially trained professional escorts the child to an interview room, where they talk, confidentially. To reduce the need to re-interview the child, the interview (called a forensic interview) is recorded. After, investigators meet with the child’s family to discuss next steps.
How is a case investigated?
The Office of Community Services (OCS) and law enforcement personnel use the recorded forensic interview to help guide their investigation. Sometimes a child is scheduled for a physical examination with a physician specifically trained in child abuse cases. The CAC facilitates monthly follow-up meetings between all involved agencies, monitoring the progress of the investigation until the case is closed or forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office.
How does a case get to court?
Completed investigations resulting in criminal charges by Law Enforcement or 'Child in Need of Care’ cases by OCS are forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office. The District Attorney’s Office determines if the case will be accepted for prosecution or further court rulings. If the case is accepted, an Assistant District Attorney is assigned to the case.
How can a child and family get help?
If there is a suspicion of child abuse or any concern for a child’s well-being, anyone can call their local law enforcement agency or the Office of Community Services. The CAC also provides information and referral services to anyone who needs assistance.
What is follow-up therapy?
Often, the trauma of physical or sexual abuse lasts long after the actual event. To help children and their families heal, they may be referred to a professional counselor or play therapist for follow-up therapy. The CAC provides a list of private agencies and therapists, as well as counseling at our locations in Covington and Bogalusa.
Who operates the Children’s Advocacy Center?
The CAC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, led by a small staff and governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. The CAC is a member of the National Children’s Alliance and the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Louisiana.
Where is the Children’s Advocacy Center?
Serving the growing communities of both St. Tammany and Washington Parishes, the CAC has two facilities, one in Covington and one in Bogalusa.
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To report child abuse or neglect, call