Who We Are
The Children’s Advocacy Center offers answers — assessment, advocacy and treatment all in one location.
The Children’s Advocacy Center is a program of The Howard Phillips Center for Children & Families, a part of Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. The Children’s Advocacy Center opened in 1999 after a community task force identified the need for a more child-friendly, “one-stop shopping” facility to provide assessment, advocacy and therapy services to abused and neglected children.
The goals of the Children’s Advocacy Center are to:
- Reduce the trauma experienced by children after abuse is reported by:
- Creating one child-friendly location for the investigation and specialized treatment of child abuse
- Reducing the number of times children have to be interviewed regarding allegations of abuse
- Improve the long-term positive outcomes for child abuse victims by:
- Creating a more positive, sensitive response to abuse allegations
- Linking families to supportive services
- Increase child abuse prosecution rates through a multidisciplinary approach that coordinates efforts of involved professionals and supports families
To facilitate these goals, a written agreement was developed and signed by the various agencies involved in the assessment, treatment and prosecution of child abuse cases in Orange County, including the Florida Department of Children and Families, local law enforcement agencies, the Child Protection Team, The Healing Tree, the State Attorney’s Office, Embrace Families, and Orange County Public Schools. This community collaboration created a safe space for abused children and their family members to access an array of assessment, advocacy and counseling services.
The opening of the Children’s Advocacy Center brought the Child Protection Team and The Healing Tree together under one umbrella. The community task force identified a need for families to have a single point of contact to help them navigate court systems and obtain crisis intervention services. This gap was filled with the addition of child advocates who provide ongoing case management services. Child advocates support families with service referrals and crisis intervention. Currently, all families referred to the Children’s Advocacy Center for allegations of sexual abuse are offered these advocacy services. Families impacted by other types of abuse can also be referred for an Advocate as needed.
Child advocates provide:
- Immediate support and crisis intervention through the initial assessment process
- Education about the child welfare and legal systems involved in child abuse cases
- Information on how sexual abuse impacts children and families and the importance of obtaining treatment for children
- Referrals to community resources
- Training for caregivers on how to best support their children
- Ongoing support and advocacy
For urgent referrals call 407.317.7430 and ask to speak to a CAC supervisor.
Additionally, through a unique community collaboration, children reported for medical neglect are assigned a specialized child advocate to help ensure they get required medical care. The medical neglect child advocate program has proven extremely successful in helping families to become compliant with recommended medical care for their children. Services of the medical neglect advocate include:
- Acting as liaison between the Child Protection Team, medical professionals, child welfare personnel and other service providers
- Coordinating regular case staffings with involved professionals
- Gathering medical records and information from treatment providers
- Conducting ongoing risk assessments
- Serving as a neutral party to advocate for the needs and safety of children
Services are provided without regard for race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability or religion. In accordance with federal law and U.S. Department of Justice policy, this organization is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination, call the Department of Legal Affairs, Federal Discrimination Complaint Coordinator, PL-01 The Capitol, Tallahassee, Florida, 32399, or call 850-414-3300, or write Office for Civil Rights, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, 810 7th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20531 or call 202-307-0690 (Voice) or 202-307-2027 (TDD/TYY). Individuals who are hearing impaired or have speech disabilities may also contact OCR through the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339 (TTY), 877-877-8982 (Speech), or 800-845-6136 (Spanish).For more information or a disability accommodation, please contact our main office.
Anyone who knows or has a reason to suspect that a child has been abused, abandoned or neglected by an adult is required by law to report such knowledge to the Florida Abuse Hotline by calling the toll free number 1.800.96.ABUSE (1.800.962.2873).
— Good Will Hunting (movie)
“Some people can’t believe in themselves until someone else believes in them first.”