top of page
Cavern City & Lea Co
Child Advocacy Centers
What is a CAC?
Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) are child-friendly facilities where children and families impacted by abuse can get the help they need to begin the process of healing.
The CAC provides a warm,
non-threatening environment designed especially for children and adolescents. The child-focused environment and collaborative team approach reduces the trauma for children during the investigative process.
How to Talk to the Child About Abuse
If the child wants to talk to you about the abuse, it's fine for you to listen. However, you should not question the child about what happened or suggest things to the child either before the interview or during the course of the investigation.
Give the child permission to talk to the interviewer about anything that may have happened. You might tell the child: "I'm going to take yo to see someone who talks to kids. They talk to kids about all sorts of things that might have happened. You are not in any trouble. It's always important that you tell the truth."
About Forensic Interviews
Discovering that a child or teen in your life may have been abused or may have witnessed a traumatic event is likely to be a stressful experience. This information may help answer some of your questions about how the CAC and forensic interview process works.
- Who will my child talk to?
Interviews are conducted by a highly trained interviewer who will talk with the child, asking non-leading questions that are age and developmentally appropriate. Other professionals, such as a social worker, police detective, and assistant district attorney involved in the case will usually observe the interview from outside of the interview room. These professionals are able to communicate with the interviewer during breaks in the interview, to ensure that they get the information they need to keep the child safe and conduct their investigation. This procedure, as well as recording the interview, reduces the likelihood that future interviews will be necessary.
- Can my child take a break?
Your child may need reassurance that you you are present at the CAC in another room. Children may leave the interview room at any time to take a break or check on you in the other room. They are never forced to talk.
- How long is the interview?
Generally the interview will not last more than 45 minutes. However, you should expect to spend about 1.5 hours at the CAC. The length of the interview may be affected by how long the abuse lasted, the child's age, attention span. developmental level, and emotional state. If additional support such as language interpretation or other assistance is needed, that can also affect the time required.
After the Interview
A team member at the CAC will discuss recommendations and next steps. Sometimes, the detective or social worker may recommend that a qualified medical professional who has experience in abuse cases examine the child. There is no cost to you for this examination. The CAC advocate can help to explain the process, offer other resources available to your family, provide updates on the status of the case, and follow up on what else the child may need. Recommendations for therapy may be discussed with you.
- Do I talk to my child after?
You can thank the child for talking to the interviewer and listen to them if they choose to talk to you about it. It's important not to pressure the child to talk about the interview and what was said.
- Will there be more interviews?
Usually, the child will only need to come to the CAC for an interview once. However, sometimes more than one interview may be necessary. The social worker and/or detective will discuss this situation with you if the need arises.
Child Abuse Response Teams
Child Abuse Response Teams offer comprehensive services to children and their families.
These teams bring together professionals from law enforcement, child protective services, medical, mental health, victim advocacy, and other agencies.
Community professionals develop and use an investigation protocol adapted for their area to provide healing and justice for families affected by child abuse.
A Word from our former Board President & former Eddy Co Sheriff
Every person who knows or has reasonable suspicion that a child is being abused or neglected in New Mexico must report the matter immediately to the Children, Youth, and Families Department's Statewide Central Intake child abuse hotline, to law enforcement, or the appropriate tribal entity.
1-855-333-SAFE (7233) or #SAFE from a Cell Phone
bottom of page