In the spring of 2013, a number of child protection agencies and law enforcement personnel will move into a new facility on the edge of Philadelphia's Juniata and Feltonville neighborhoods. This co-location of services is a trend that seeks to make things easier on abused kids.
It's a partnership called a Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) that combines law enforcement, sexual abuse investigators, medical and mental health experts, as well as child advocates.
In Philadelphia to deliver the keynote address at the 2012 Team Approach to Child Abuse Intervention Conference Friday, Teresa Huizar, executive director of the National Children's Alliance, touted the value of CACs, a model that took off 25 years ago to help prevent children from falling between the cracks.
"One of the reasons that co-location is so important is that it allows all of the professionals who are working on these cases to be under one roof so that as issues come up on cases, the professionals can communicate very readily with one another,” said Huizar. “I think that makes such a tremendous difference for the quality of work that's done on these cases.”
In Philadelphia, it's taken nearly a decade to bring services for child victims together in one location. Huizar, says the new CAC will serve as a safe haven for children and remove the burden of retelling their stories of abuse to multiple agencies.