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Minnesota centers meet standards of service, support

Two happy kids

“Tell me about that, from the beginning, to the middle, to the end.”

It might be one of the first open-ended questions a child or adolescent is asked after meeting and building a relationship with a forensic interviewer.

During an investigation of abuse or maltreatment is made, a case is often referred to a local children’s advocacy center.

When a child or adolescent and their caregiver arrive, a whole team of professionals – forensic interviewers, advocates, law enforcement, child protection workers, and medical and mental health care providers – are ready to provide support and access to services in the aftermath.

If you are concerned about possible abuse of a child, learn how to report suspected child abuse in Minnesota.

Seven accredited centers, and more in development

In 2018, service availability grew in Minnesota when we added a newly accredited center to our ranks: The Central Minnesota Child Advocacy Center, serving St. Cloud and surrounding communities. The center went from developing to accreditation in three years and has been a valued resource in a fast-growing metropolitan area of the state.

The Mayo Child and Family Advocacy Center in Rochester, Minnesota also passed re-accreditation in 2018, after initially becoming accredited in 2013. Centers must undergo a re-accreditation process every five years to ensure standards are met in a consistent and ongoing manner.

There are 12 children’s advocacy centers and 3 satellite offices located in Minnesota – find the center nearest to you. Over 2,600 children, adolescents and their families receive services each year at these centers.

Safety in a moment of chaos

It only takes a moment for a family’s world to be thrown into chaos when a disclosure of abuse is made. But healing from trauma may take years, and pursuing criminal cases can take just as long.

Putting children’s needs first

That’s really why children’s advocacy centers exist: to walk alongside families as they process trauma, heal from abuse, and seek healthy and safe futures. Creating a safe, neutral space for someone to talk about what they’ve experienced is a critical step toward healing from abuse.

Before children’s advocacy centers, a child or adolescent would routinely have to talk about their experience multiple times. As a result, they often experienced increased trauma. It also created challenges in the prosecution of cases.

Now, a minimal number of forensic interviews, observed by all members of the team involved in a case, is a critical early step to navigate the complex systems families rely on to pursue justice.

Creating a network of support

Multidisciplinary teams and the shift away from multiple interviews are two of several standards that children’s advocacy centers operate by to ensure that all those that receive services have access to consistent, evidence-based services that help them heal from abuse.

Other standards include:

  • Cultural competency and diversity
  • Victim support and advocacy
  • Medical evaluation
  • Mental health
  • Case review
  • Case tracking
  • Organizational capacity
  • Child-focused setting

By creating a supportive network, children’s advocacy centers put the needs of the child first, and work to orient all services and support around their healing and development.

Do you want to know more about how to support coordinated responses to child abuse and maltreatment in your community? Learn more about the steps to starting a CAC.

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The Minnesota Children’s Alliance is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the care and investigation of sexual abuse and assault against children and at-risk adults.
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