Southwest Virginia Children's Advocacy
Southwest Virginia Children's Advocacy Center
(SWVACAC) offers a full
child abuse continuum of care, from prevention to
intervention to treatment. The goal is to prevent child
abuse and to intervene effectively when abuse occurs.
Effective intervention helps to minimize re-victimization
by the systems designed to protect child victims.
Prevention services take place in the home, in the community
and in the school system. Intervention and treatment
services for children who have been sexually or severely
physically abused are provided on-site at the SWVACAC
located within the Mountain Empire Older Citizens office
The Children's Advocacy
Center (CAC) is a child-friendly, child-focused, community oriented, safe
facility where representatives from many disciplines meet to discuss and make
decisions about the investigation, treatment and prosecution of child abuse
cases. The center is designed to accommodate children of all ages; helping to
reduce stress and trauma for the child victim.
team (MDT) approach brings together, under one umbrella, all the
professionals and agencies needed to offer comprehensive services: law
enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, victim advocacy and the
medical community. A specially trained professional conducts forensic
interviews with the child victim, while team members observe and participate
from behind a one-way mirror. This approach reduces the number of times
children must repeat their stories of abuse. The initial contact person and
the safe atmosphere are critical in the efforts to gain children’s
confidence and trust. Forensic evaluations
are also available for children who may need an additional interview, due to
age or development. Forensic evaluations resemble forensic interviews, but
take place over a longer period of time.
On-site therapy is
provided to children who have been victims of abuse by a licensed, clinical
social worker. Mental health treatment services include short-term mental health
therapy, crisis intervention, assessment, case management, safety planning,
criminal justice support and advocacy. Because child abuse does not affect only
the child, but the entire family, the CAC also offers the Family Advocate
program. This program provides case management, education and support to
parents/caregivers to help them better understand the impact of child abuse.
Treatment may consist of a variety of age
appropriate therapies, including play/expressive, forensically sensitive,
cognitive behavioral and other trauma-focused therapies.
vital to the healing process. Educating parents/caregivers about the impact of
child abuse helps them to better understand a traumatized child’s behaviors and
how they can most effectively help their child to overcome the stress that abuse
creates on a daily basis. Parents/caregivers also learn how to manage their own
feelings and stress related to the abuse.
Healing can happen, children can learn coping
skills that reduce stress and parents/caregivers can help by supporting their
child/children. Ignoring what has happened will not make the “hurt” go away.