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Child Forensic Interviewing in Children's Advocacy Centers: Empirical Data on a Practice Model

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2007
22 pages
The study presents an evaluation of Children’s Advocacy Centers’ (CACs) implementation of improved child forensic interviewing methods.
The results suggest that CACs had a noticeable impact on investigations and forensic interviewing in child sexual abuse cases. No one CAC model of forensic interviewing exists. Communities adapt to their particular structure, history, context, and goals. Some comparison communities used joint investigations and case review at levels that rivaled or exceeded that of the CACs with which they were paired; child abuse professionals and the public should consider this system in each community. Team interview, videotaping of interviews, joint Child Protective Services (CPS)-police investigations, and police involvement in CPS sexual abuse cases were all more common in CAC cases. CACs appeared to offer a more thorough and child-orientated response to child sexual abuse reports, with families reporting a more positive experience on average. The specific method of coordination varied by CAC, and some comparison communities used coordination methods as often as, or more frequently than their corresponding CACs. The advantages pertained to coordination, and not number of interviews. Individual CACs should examine their program and alter their strengths to emphasize the coordination and deemphasize the number of interviews. The fact that a large majority of CAC interviews were conducted at a CAC facility, whereas larger portions of comparison interviews took place in CPS offices, police agencies, schools, and homes suggests that CACs are more likely to provide child-friendly locations. Duplicative interviewing was rare in both CAC and comparison communities, and there were significant differences between CAC and comparison communities in only two sites (one favoring the comparison community). Research must expand knowledge about best practice, make it available to all victims, and deal with system and resource issues that impede progress. Case file data were collected on a sample of 1,452 cases, primarily involving allegations of sexual and physical abuse. Tables, references

Date Published: October 1, 2007