Multi-Site Evaluation of Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs)
Summary: The Multi-Site Evaluation of CACs, funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) was designed to evaluate the impact of CACs on children, families, systems, and communities. Using a quasi-experimental design, data from over 1000 cases were collected from four participating CACs and from communities without CACs.
Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs) are endorsed as the “state of the art” intervention for effective, sensitive investigation of allegations of child abuse. The core element of CACs, the multidisciplinary investigation team, is used in hundreds of communities across the country. Those familiar with CACs believe that the centers have a wide array of positive effects, from reducing stress on children and families, to increasing the yield in accuracy and information of investigations, to promoting more effective criminal justice and human service responses. Yet the impact of CACs has never been adequately evaluated, and the research knowledge base about CACs is limited.
Goals and Objectives
The Crimes against Children Research Center (CCRC) of the University of New Hampshire has conducted a multi-site evaluation to study how CACs work and in what ways they are effective. The study examined the impact of CACs on children, families, agencies, the court system and communities. Sites consist of a Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) community with a matched comparison non-CAC community. The participating CACs are:
- Dallas Children's Advocacy Center, Dallas, TX
- The Pittsburgh Child Advocacy Center, Children's Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA
- The Low Country Children's Center, Charleston, SC
- The National Children's Advocacy Center, Huntsville, AL
Preliminary results suggest that CACs increase coordination of investigations and use of medical examinations, and lead to greater satisfaction among non-offending parents of alleged victims. See below for a link to an executive summary describing the main findings from the project. Papers with more detail on these findings and others are currently being submitted and reviewed by professional journals. If you would like to be added to the email list to receive information about publications from this project as they become available, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the course of the project, we developed several useful articles and other documents that we are happy to share with you. We ask only that you cite the source in your writings, according to the guidelines of the American Psychological Association's Publication Manual. These documents are provided in the links described below:
- A Logic Model which represents a capsule, graphical way to depict the theory underlying CACs. This can help guide evaluation research design, and data analysis;
- A draft listing of all Case Data variables we are seeking from client information systems, which we call the Data Dictionary. CACs and investigating agencies already collect in their practice much of the data needed by our study in their client information systems (CIS) or paper files.
- A paper-and-pencil survey conducted by the CCRC about the importance of different outcomes in each site area, which we have named the Outcome Survey. This allows us to know in more detail what outcomes each community values from its CAC. A sample size of N=69 has been evaluated and Outcome Survey Results are available below.
In order to keep the CAC community and other interested individuals current on the progress of the Multi-Site Evaluation, we will periodically update this site with information about the evaluation and links to documents that we think might be helpful in understanding the project.