The mission of the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center (DCAC) is to improve the lives of abused children in Dallas County and to provide national leadership on child abuse issues.
DCAC coordinates the investigation and prosecution of the most severe cases of child abuse in our community. Last year, DCAC served more than 4,000 children (and their non-offending family members) who were sexually abused, severely physically abused, or who had witnessed a violent crime. Our average client is a 9-10 year-old girl, sexually abused by someone she knows and trusts.
DCAC houses the Child Abuse Unit of the Dallas Police Department, five units of CPS, and an Assistant District Attorney. Having all of these professionals under one roof drives collaboration and communication in the very sensitive cases that DCAC coordinates. DCAC also works with, among others, more than 25 other police agencies in Dallas County and Children’s Health. After a child is referred to DCAC by law enforcement or CPS, a DCAC forensic interviewer listens to the child’s story and asks non-leading, developmentally-appropriate questions as the child talks about the trauma he/she has experienced. Law enforcement and CPS professionals observe the interview from a separate room. This reduces trauma for the child and provides for a much stronger case if the case goes to court.
Children who are victimized need help to process what they have experienced in order to heal. Children who do not receive an intervention after trauma struggle in a variety of ways. DCAC has expert child therapists who provide art therapy, play therapy, animal assisted therapy and music therapy. Services are free of charge. Children who have been victimized and who do not receive some sort of healing therapy are more likely to:
- Abuse drugs or alcohol
- Grow up to become victims of domestic violence
- Become involved in some sort of criminal activity
- Suffer from depression, anxiety disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder
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