The New Hampshire Network of Child Advocacy Centers (NHNCAC) is the coordinating entity for all established and start-up Child Advocacy Center (CAC) programs and multidisciplinary teams throughout the state of New Hampshire. The mission of the NHNCAC is to protect children from abuse; the goal is that every child in the state of New Hampshire has access to the multidisciplinary services of a Child Advocacy Center.
What is a Child Advocacy Center?
Based on a national model, Child Advocacy Centers are community partnerships dedicated to a coordinated team approach by professionals pursuing the truth in child abuse investigations. By bring together professionals from law enforcement, the County Attorney’s Office, the Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), victim advocacy agencies and the medical and mental health communities, Child Advocacy Centers provide as a safe child friendly location for interviewing alleged victims of child abuse and coordinating the investigative team.
Investigative Team Observes Forensic InterviewA Forensic Interview of a Child at a CAC
There are currently eight Child Advocacy Centers in New Hampshire with an additional two more centers in development.
In 2008, New Hampshire CACs provided services to more than 1,560 abused children and their non-offending family members/caregivers, 81% of these cases involved child sexual abuse and exploitation.
Research and the CAC Model
A recent national cost benefit analysis of the Child Advocacy Center model shows that on average CACs save approximately $1,000 in services to children and families during the course of a child abuse investigation. Thus, by the end of 2006, Child Advocacy Centers across the state will have saved close to $1,200,000 in services to children and families!
In 2006, researchers at the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire completed a five year multi-site national evaluation of the CAC model. “Using data from more than 1,000 cases, the study showed that communities with a CAC had significantly higher rates of collaboration among professional disciplines investigating cases of abuse.” Moreover, the study found that children and families were more satisfied with the investigation than those in comparison communities with a significantly higher percentage of children receiving a referral for a medical evaluation (48% verses 21%) and mental health services (60% verses 22%).
Support for CACs
New Hampshire Child Advocacy Centers are extremely fortunate to enjoy the support of a wide range of state leaders and organizations including:
- Governor John H. Lynch
- Attorney General Kelly Ayotte and the New Hampshire Department of Justice
- Director Maggie Bishop, Divsion for Children, Youth and Families, Department of Health and Human Services
- The New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police
- New Hampshire State Police
- CARE Network of Medical Providers
- New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
- Attorney General’s Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect
- University of New Hampshire Crimes Against Children Research Center
Governor and State Legislature
On May 11, 2006 Governor John Lynch signed into law SB370, legislation enabling the development and continued growth of Child Advocacy Centers and Investigative Multidisciplinary Teams throughout the state.
Authored by former Health and Human Services Commissioner John Stephen and Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, SB370 enjoyed broad support throughout the legislative process. Nashua Senator David Gottesman served as the bills primary sponsor. Other legislative sponsors included Senators Josesph Foster, Lou D’Allesandro, Robert Clegg, Robert Letourneau and Martha Fuller Clark and Representatives Maureen Mooney, William Knowles and Janet Wall.
United States Senator Judd Gregg has been an ardent supporter of the Child Advocacy Center model for investigating child abuse both here in New Hampshire as well as at the federal level. Thanks to Senator Gregg, federal funding for CACs through the United States Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention totals $15,000,000.
National Accreditation for CACS
National Children’s Alliance provides accreditation to local CACs based on a rigorous set of professional standards of operation. There are currently three accredited Child Advocacy Centers in New Hampshire, the Child Advocacy Center of Rockingham County with facilities in both Portsmouth and Derry; the Hillsborough County Child Advocacy Center in Nashua and the Child Advocacy Center of Grafton and Sullivan Counties at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center with offices in both Hanover and Newport.