The Arlington County Child Advocacy Center

The Arlington County Child Advocacy Center, or CAC, is a comfortable, child friendly environment where children feel safe to share about their alleged abusive experience. While at the CAC, children receive a comprehensive assessment and services to meet their particular needs from the following professionals:

  • Law Enforcement Officers
  • Child Protective Services Social Workers
  • Commonwealth Attorneys
  • County Attorneys
  • Victim Assistance Specialists
  • Violence Intervention Specialists
  • Mental Health Therapists
  • Physicians
  • Nurses

These professionals are members of the Multidisciplinary Team (MDT). The MDT collaborates and develops an individualized plan to prevent multiple contacts for the alleged child victim with the various professionals while ensuring protection and quality care.

The Arlington CAC is located at the Department of Human Services.


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The mission of the Child Advocacy Center is to promote the safety and well-being of children in Arlington County when there is an allegation of sexual, severe physical and or mental abuse.

7 Steps to Protecting Our Children from Sexual Abuse

English | Spanish


Comprehensive Approach

A Child Advocacy Center is a child-focused, facility-based program where representatives from many disciplines meet to discuss and make decisions about investigation, treatment, intervention, and prosecution of child abuse cases.  They also work together to prevent further victimization of children.

The multidisciplinary team approach brings together under one umbrella all the professionals and agencies needed to offer comprehensive services: law enforcement, Child Protective Services, prosecution, mental health, medical, and victim advocacy.  CACs are community-based programs designed by professionals and volunteers to meet the unique needs of its community.

  • Communities that have developed a CAC experience many benefits, including a reduction in the number of child victim interviews and increased successful prosecution.
  • Studies also indicate that communities with a CAC versus communities using the traditional CPS-law enforcement response to child abuse saves $1,318 per child abuse case, according to National Children’s Advocacy Center researchers in Huntsville, AL. The study also found that traditional investigations cost 45% more than CAC investigations.

The comprehensive approach, with follow-up services provided by the CAC, ensures that children receive child-focused services in a child-friendly environment — one in which the child’s needs come first.

Core Components of a Child Advocacy Center

  • Separate, child-friendly facilities for interviewing using a forensic interviewing model and providing services to child victims and the non-offending family members
  • Core disciplines:  law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, mental  health, medical, and victim advocacy
  • Coordinated multidisciplinary investigation team
  • Regular interdisciplinary case review
  • Intensive case follow-up
  • Specially-trained professionals

Trainings

The Arlington County Child Advocacy Center (CAC) supports a variety of trainings! Some trainings include, “Interviewing Children and Adolescents,” “Topics in Child Sexual Abuse,” “Addressing Problematic Sexual Behaviors in Trauma Focused- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,” “Your Day in Court,” and “Sexual Abuse Exam-Acute and Non-Acute and Evaluations of Commercially Sexually Exploited Youth.” Some of these trainings can be tailored to your group. Please contact Marcella Rustioni at 703-228-1567 or mrustioni@arlingtonva.us  for additional information.

Darkness to Light is a Nation-Wide prevention and awareness program that empowers adults to prevent child abuse. The Arlington County CAC is also hosting trainings that are a part of the “Darkness to Light” program and are open to the public. Multiple trainings are available in either English or Spanish.

  • Stewards of Children (2 ½  hours)- Learn how to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. 
  • Healthy Touching (1 hour)- Learn how to balance children’s needs for warmth and affection with safe, respectful ways of interacting.
  • Talking with Children about Safety from Sexual Abuse (1 hour)-  Learn to have age-appropriate, open conversations about our bodies, sex, and boundaries.
  • Bystanders Protecting Children from Boundary Violations and Sexual Abuse (1 hour)- Learn to describe behavior. Set limits. Move on. Always make sure the person who has violated the boundary is willing to follow the limit you set.
  • Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (I hour)- Learn about commercial sexual exploitation, which is a form of sexual abuse and should not be mistaken for as child’s consent.

Darkness to Light trainings can also be scheduled and tailored for professional / community groups on other dates and times.

To register for or discuss scheduling any of these Darkness to Light trainings go to  https://www.signupgenius.com/go/20F0A45ACA829A6FD0-stewards1.

Contact Jennifer Gross at 703-228-1561 or jgross@arlingtonva.us for more information.

Take a Training

To sign up for one of the Child Advocacy Center’s Child Sexual Abuse Prevention trainings or to learn more, click here!


Trainings

The Arlington County Child Advocacy Center (CAC) supports a variety of trainings! Some trainings include, “Interviewing Children and Adolescents,” “Topics in Child Sexual Abuse,” “Addressing Problematic Sexual Behaviors in Trauma Focused- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,” “Your Day in Court,” and “Sexual Abuse Exam-Acute and Non-Acute and Evaluations of Commercially Sexually Exploited Youth.” Some of these trainings can be tailored to your group. Please contact Marcella Rustioni at 703-228-1567 or mrustioni@arlingtonva.us  for additional information.

Darkness to Light is a Nation-Wide prevention and awareness program that empowers adults to prevent child abuse. The Arlington County CAC is also hosting trainings that are a part of the “Darkness to Light” program and are open to the public. Multiple trainings are available in either English or Spanish.

  • Stewards of Children (2 ½  hours)- Learn how to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. 
  • Healthy Touching (1 hour)- Learn how to balance children’s needs for warmth and affection with safe, respectful ways of interacting.
  • Talking with Children about Safety from Sexual Abuse (1 hour)-  Learn to have age-appropriate, open conversations about our bodies, sex, and boundaries.
  • Bystanders Protecting Children from Boundary Violations and Sexual Abuse (1 hour)- Learn to describe behavior. Set limits. Move on. Always make sure the person who has violated the boundary is willing to follow the limit you set.
  • Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (I hour)- Learn about commercial sexual exploitation, which is a form of sexual abuse and should not be mistaken for as child’s consent.

Darkness to Light trainings can also be scheduled and tailored for professional / community groups on other dates and times.

To register for or discuss scheduling any of these Darkness to Light trainings go to  https://www.signupgenius.com/go/20F0A45ACA829A6FD0-stewards1.

Contact Jennifer Gross at 703-228-1561 or jgross@arlingtonva.us for more information.