The Child Advocacy Center of the Finger Lakes (CACFL) is a child-friendly location where allegations of physical or sexual abuse are responded to by a multidisciplinary team of professionals. From the time of the report through the end of the case, the team will work together to conduct a thorough investigation and provide necessary support services to children and their non-offending caregivers.
The model aims to reduce trauma experienced by child victims and to improve child abuse investigations.
What the Child Advocacy Center of the Finger Lakes does:
- A dedicated, child-friendly setting for conducting interviews with children and families.
- Coordination of investigative, legal, medical, advocacy, and mental health services.
- Multi-disciplinary team reviews of all child abuse cases.
- Medical evaluations at the CAC or through referrals to other specialized medical providers in the area.
- Victim advocacy services and linkages to mental health services.
- Information and referral to additional necessary services.
- Community education, outreach, and training on child abuse awareness and prevention.
Why it matters
Nationally, it is estimated that 1 out of 3 girls and 1 out of 7 boys are sexually abused during childhood. The child abuse epidemic requires enormous community organization to investigate and provide trauma-specific treatment to children affected. Agencies in Ontario County have been collaborating for more than a decade to create better strategies for addressing child abuse victimization. The Child Advocacy Center of the Finger Lakes (CACFL) strives to accomplish several goals: 1) to reduce the secondary trauma to children by providing a compassionate response; 2) to share respective skills, information and resources to rapidly and thoroughly investigate allegations of child abuse; and 3) to provide support to enable the healing process.
According to the 2010 census, there are nearly 25,000 children under the age of 18 living in Ontario County. The CACFL is the only program in the county that offers a coordinated, multi-agency response to victims of child sexual and physical abuse – the CACFL and Finger Lakes Child Abuse Response Team (FLCART) currently coordinates nearly 200 child abuse investigations per year.
Since opening the Center’s doors in 2008, CACFL has provided services (forensic interviews, referrals to therapy, victim advocacy services, referrals to specialized child abuse medical evaluations, and more) to more than 1400 children– from birth to 18– with demand for services growing annually.