Why a Child Advocacy Center?
Tragically once abuse occurs, children can face a frightening and confusing process. Without a Child Advocacy Center (CAC), the child may end up having to tell about the worst experience of their life many times over to investigators, doctors, lawyers, therapists, law enforcement and others.
Without a CAC a child may have to talk to 15+ individuals.
With a CAC a child only talks to 4 trained professionals.
How We Work
Child-focused services through our Child Advocacy Center San Luis Obispo County (CAC-SLO) include a child abuse pediatrician, safe parent or caregiver and Family Advocate working together to address the abuse and assist the treatment and healing process.
The child victim shares their experience once with a trained forensic interviewer who knows the right questions to ask in a way that is not re-traumatizing. Counseling and community resources are available to support child and family well-being.
CAC-SLO Healing & Treatment Services for Child Victims
A Forensic Interview provides a safe place for the child to share their experience with trained professionals who will listen to them, protect them and help them heal.
Our child abuse pediatrician conducts a Medical Examination to evaluate and treat physical and sexual abuse, neglect, and other instances of trauma.
Family Advocacy Services provide a bridge between the child victim, safe family
members, and the team of professionals guiding the process.
Expert Mental Health Services are a crucial component in addressing the immediate and long-term effects of child abuse-related trauma for both the victim and safe family members.
In San Luis Obispo County our CAC Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) works together
to respond to child abuse allegations. The CAC direct service team includes staff from Public Health, the District Attorney, Lumina Alliance and Center for Family Strengthening.
MDT partners and community resource organizations include law enforcement, behavioral health, education, child welfare services and victim advocacy.
How are children and families referred to the
Referrals to the CAC are made through a Law Enforcement Agency (Sheriff or Police Deptartment) or Child Welfare Services (CWS). Law enforcement and Child Welfare Services will investigate when receiving a report of alleged child abuse.
If further investigation is needed law enforcement will request a Child Forensic Interview through the District Attorney’s Office Child Abuse Interview Team. The Child Abuse Interview Team Manager will request a CAC Family Advocate to assist the family while they go through the investigative process.
If you have a concern for a child’s health and well-being, we recommend contacting the following community resources.
- Community Counseling Center: Low cost, affordable counseling (805) 543-7969
- Parent Connection: Free Parent Coaching and education services (805) 543-3700
- The Link Family Resource Center: Free family support services in SLO County (805) 466-5404
- Lumina Alliance: Sexual and intimate partner violence services (805) 781-6400
If you have questions about CAC-SLO County services please contact: Rocío Hernández, CAC Family Advocate Services Coordinator at (805) 788-8242 or Rhernandez@cfsslo.org.
How do I know when to report child abuse?
All children have the right to a safe and nurturing home, and making a report is the first step in putting an end to the devastating cycle of child abuse. Reporting should be done when a person either knows or has a reasonable suspicion that a child has been or is in danger of abuse or neglect. Hard proof is not needed to make a report, however, reports must be in good faith.
How do I report child abuse?
To report your concerns for a child’s safety or suspected abuse, call your local law enforcement agency or Child Welfare Services (CWS) 24-Hour Hotline 805-781-KIDS (5437) or 1-800-834-KIDS. Sometimes it is hard to figure out what to do. If you are not sure and need to talk to one of our CAC Family Advocates, please feel free to call the CAC-SLO County at 805-788-8242 Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm.
Should I consider counseling for my child?
Children may be uncomfortable discussing the abuse with their parents/caretakers because they feel shame, embarrassment, or guilt.
Children dislike seeing their parents upset or angry. Therefore, they may try to protect their parents by not telling them about the abuse. Reassure your child that you are not upset with them, rather that you are upset with the situation.
It is important to give your child an opportunity to talk with a professional. Children have different needs that may need to be addressed from the incident to the recovery. Allowing your child to talk with a professional therapist is a positive step toward healing. Also, you as a parent
may feel that you could benefit from speaking with a professional regarding your own personal feelings.
CAC Family Advocates can provide you with information of local mental health professionals in the community and walk you through the process for finding a therapist.
Our CAC SLO Journey
- The Child Advocacy Center San Luis Obispo County was established. Bringing the CAC model to SLO County was a partnership between Center for Family Strengthening, the District Attorney’s Office, and Public Health.
- The Multidisciplinary Case Review Team was formed to improve cooperation between agencies and implement streamlined services.
- Two bilingual, bicultural CAC Family Advocates were hired to provide navigation support to child sexual and physical abuse victims and their safe family members.
- Establish a dedicated, accessible CAC location designed to offer child-focused & family-friendly services.
- Improve access to healing and treatment services through strategic partnerships and expanding the CAC team.
- A North SLO County satellite location.
- On-site child trauma therapists.
- Co-located family support services.
- Committed funding to sustain child-focused healing and treatment services.
CAC-SLO is a proud member of national and statewide networks designed to provide accreditation, training, technical support and more to child advocacy centers across the US.
Children’s Advocacy Centers of California (CACC) is a membership organization dedicated to helping local communities respond to allegations of child abuse in ways that are effective and efficient – and put the needs of child victims first. CACC provides training, support, technical assistance and leadership on a statewide level to local child advocacy centers and multidisciplinary teams throughout California responding to reports of child abuse and neglect. Learn more at https://www.cacc-online.org/
In 1988, representatives from Children’s Advocacy Centers around the country joined forces to establish the National Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers. A decade later, in an effort to reflect the Network’s national composition and focus, the National Network became known as National Children’s Alliance (NCA). In line with original intent, NCA continues to provide accreditation opportunities, financial assistance, training, technical assistance, research, and education to communities, child abuse professionals, and the more than 900 Children’s Advocacy Centers throughout the United States in support of child abuse intervention, advocacy, and prevention. Learn more here: