The Child Advocacy Center of Rockingham County (CACRC) opened its doors in January of 2000 at the Community Campus building in Portsmouth. At that time we were New Hampshire's first and only operating CAC in the state. In 2000, the CACRC served 23 Seacoast area towns and in 2002 expanded to include all 37 towns in Rockingham County. The CACRC attained accredited membership status with the National Children's Alliance in 2003. That same year, we opened a second office in Derry, NH to better serve the Western side of the county. To date, we have provided professional services to over 4,800 children and their families at no cost to them or taxpayers.
What was before the CACRC?
Prior to the establishment of CAC's, when abuse was reported the child was subjected to numerous interviews. A child might be questioned by the parent, or a teacher who receives the initial disclosure; then by the Police in whatever space was available, from a holding jail cell to the back of a police cruiser. Child protective services would then question them at their offices or in the child’s home. Furthermore, the child would then visit the doctor for an exam and be questioned, and in some cases the child would be questioned even more by the local prosecutor. The typical child abuse victim would be interviewed an average of 9 times by separate people with different questioning styles and agendas.
Reducing the Trauma of Children
Multiple interviews of a child abuse victim increase trauma and are counterproductive to conducting a solid investigation. The Child Advocacy Center brings together all parties within the investigation to one child friendly, neutral location so one interview can be conducted with all relevant parties represented. Everyone's questions are asked through a trained forensic investigator skilled at interviewing children. The National Children's Alliance reports that in municipalities where a Child Advocacy Center is utilized there is a 40% increase in successful prosecution of child abuse cases.
Supporting the Community
The CAC not only benefits the child, but also the entire community. Statistics reflect that children suffering abuse who do not receive a strong intervention are 67 times more likely to become juvenile offenders. By offering services to 100% of Rockingham County children that are victimized by abuse, that is reported, we are making a difference in our community as a whole every day.