The National Children’s Advocacy Center (NCAC), in Huntsville/Madison County, the nation’s first Children’s Advocacy Center, celebrating 30 years of services in 2015. As a child-focused, multidisciplinary response to child abuse, the Children’s Advocacy Center was established to prevent the re-victimization of sexually abused children by the system’s response to their cases. The “multidisciplinary team approach” involves law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, mental health, medical, family/victim advocacy, and other resources in a model community response to child sexual abuse. Professionals across this nation have recognized that by focusing on abused children, they can work together to achieve better outcomes for young victims and families.
The NCAC Clinical Department is dedicated to providing an array of child abuse intervention services to Madison County and its surrounding areas in order to minimize the long-term effects of abuse. These services include Forensic Interview Services, Mental Health Services, Medical Services, Family and Victim Advocate Services, and coordination of investigations by our Multidisciplinary Team. We serve children under the age of 19 who are alleged victims of child sexual abuse or severe physical abuse. Diverse communities are impacted by these services, in that children and families from a wide range of socioeconomic and ethnic groups are equally served. No group is denied services because of an inability to pay, since there is no charge for services. All children who qualify for and need services receive them regardless of race, ethnicity, religious background, and socioeconomic status.
Normal business hours for the National Children’s Advocacy Center Children’s Building are Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Forensic Interview Services
Forensic services are provided to children who may have experienced abuse or who have witnessed a crime or other violent act. The primary aim of forensic services is to aid in ensuring the safety of the individual child as well as other children in the community. Forensic services are provided in a safe and child-friendly environment.
A medical exam is offered to any child who has allegations or concerns of abuse. The NCAC has a pediatric nurse practitioner on staff and is available to perform specialized medical evaluations on site in a child friendly, non-threatening environment.
Family and Victim Advocacy Services
Family Advocacy services are provided to the parents and guardians of children who participate in forensic interviews, although other caregivers may be referred to the program as well. These services are designed to give support and education to caregivers in a one-on-one setting or through support groups.
Mental Health Services
Children between the age of 2 and 18 who have experienced a trauma may be referred for therapy. In addition, siblings of those children are eligible for services. Several types of therapy are offered, including Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), and group therapy.
The Multidisciplinary Team concept was a core aspect of the original Child Advocacy Center model developed by Bud Cramer during the early 1980’s. Previously, the United States response to child sexual abuse was poorly coordinated between the various entities with a responsibility for conducting the initial investigation and response to child sexual abuse.
Child and Family Resources
During the course of therapy, children and caregivers may find that they need to contact therapists for help outside of scheduled sessions. If this happens, there are additional resources to use.