The Multidisciplinary Team concept was a core aspect of the original Child Advocacy Center model developed by Bud Cramer during the early 1980’s. Previously, the United States response to child sexual abuse was poorly coordinated between the various entities. With a committed group of community volunteers, Mr. Cramer refined and implemented the first Child Advocacy Center in Huntsville, AL in 1985. This innovative model recognized that in order for the United States to effectively respond to this issue that a unique public-private partnership was essential, and that the various agencies and departments responsible for the protection of children must be united in a collaborative effort to respond with the recognition that no one agency by itself could assure the protection of children.
This bold effort to reformulate the nations response to child abuse was met with a mixture of skepticism and excitement. The various institutions of law enforcement, child protective services, mental health, medical health, and victim advocacy were unaccustomed to working in a collaborative fashion, but they quickly realized the value and impact of this multidisciplinary model. Currently, this approach has been widely adopted as a best practice in responding to child sexual abuse in the United States. Throughout the United States, there are now more than 950 Childrens Advocacy Centers which served more than 300,000 children last year, and this model has now been implemented in more than 25 countries throughout the world.
How the Multidisciplinary Team responds to Child Abuse
Reviews cases with members of Multidisciplinary Team to guide the child abuse investigations, determines whether prosecution in criminal court is appropriate, and prepares cases for trial
Provides the parents/ caregivers of children who participate in a forensic interview with support and education about the investigation and criminal justice process, ongoing support, and linkage to community resources
Provides noninvasive physical exams for children with allegations or concerns of abuse
Interviews children who may have experienced abuse, using a nationally-recognized forensic interview model developed by NCAC
Responds to reports of child abuse, investigates the allegations in conjunction with DCS, and makes arrests when appropriate
Responds to reports of child abuse, investigates the allegations in conjunction with law enforcement, and works to ensure children are safe
Provides evidence-based and trauma-focused mental health treatment to children who have experienced abuse or other traumatizing events