The Child Advocacy Center is designed to be a neutral, child friendly location in which a comprehensive coordinated approach is taken in response to allegations of child abuse. The Center is a warm, caring environment that places the child’s need first and one location to interview, examine and counsel abused children while preparing for prosecution of child abuse cases.
The Saratoga County Partnership for Safe Children works together to make decisions about investigation, treatment and prosecution of child abuse cases. The advantages to this approach are a reduction in the number of child victim interviews, prompt and ongoing services for the abused child and non-offending family members, more efficient mental health and medical services and enhanced evidence collection that benefits investigation and prosecution through improved response time, coordination and information sharing.
The Saratoga Center for the Family (SCF) is the lead agency of the Saratoga County Partnership for Safe Children, the County’s legislated multi-disciplinary team (MDT). The MDT is comprised of 24 specially trained professionals from 15 county, law enforcement, prosecution, social service, medical, and mental health agencies and disciplines.
The Saratoga County Partnership for Safe Children is the driving force behind the formation and continuation of the Harriet M. West Child Advocacy Center. The multidisciplinary approach expedites the investigation and prosecution of those who offend against children, while providing a safe, child friendly, full service environment where these children can begin the healing process. The Partnership is designed to provide team collaboration on all child cases, thus assuring improved response time, coordination and information sharing.
The inclusion of the Medical component at the CAC is a step toward having co-located team members on site.
The Partners are invested in the Center and its services to children. They provide many hours of meeting, consultation and service each month. The Center is the fruition of a dream long held by the Partnership.
Partnership for Safe Children
* All police agencies in Saratoga County and surrounding areas are welcome to utilize Harriet M. West Child Advocacy Center.
Pediatric Forensic Medical Exams – conducted by specially trained and certified MDs, NPs and RNs. Exams conducted by these highly qualified examiners provide support to the child and family and reduce the trauma sometimes associated with these exams. The exams may be conducted at the Child Advocacy Center or the Saratoga Hospital Emergency Room.
Victims Advocacy – is a program whose mission is to provide comprehensive specialized services for child victims of sexual assault, violence, and physical abuse. Services respond to immediate needs of child crime victims and non-offending family members to reduce the severity of associated trauma, and provide support during the criminal justice process. Referrals are routinely made for other needed services.
Counseling Services – are available through Saratoga Center for the Family. Specially trained therapists provide individual and group counseling as well as support and educational programs for child victims and non-offending family members.
Forensic Interviews – are conducted by professional members of the MDT who have received advanced training in child interviewing. The interviewer avoids questions that might be considered suggestive or coercive.
The Crimes Against Children Advocacy Center at the University of New Hampshire recently completed an extensive evaluation of the impact of children’s advocacy centers. The study is considered to be the most comprehensive evaluation of Children’s Advocacy Centers (CAC’s) yet completed.
The study’s key findings concluded that: