Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center coordinates the investigation, prosecution, and healing services for the most severe cases of child abuse in Dallas County – those that rise to the level of a criminal offense. Each year, DCAC serves over 7,300 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-year-old girl, sexually abused by someone she knows and trusts.
DCAC houses the Child Abuse Unit of the Dallas Police Department, six units of CPS, and a Dallas County Assistant District Attorney. Having all of these professionals under one roof drives collaboration and communication in the very sensitive cases that DCAC coordinates. DCAC has 32 partners including 27 law enforcement agencies in Dallas County, Children’s Health, the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, the Dallas County Southwestern Institute for Forensic Services, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (Child Protective Services, Child Care Licensing, Adult Protective Services), and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas Department of Pediatrics.
After a child is referred to DCAC by law enforcement or CPS, a DCAC forensic interviewer listens to the child’s story by asking non-leading, developmentally appropriate questions as the child talks about the trauma he/she has experienced. The interview is video recorded while law enforcement and CPS professionals observe it from a separate room. The forensic interview reduces trauma for the child and provides a stronger foundation if the case goes to court.
Children who have been victimized and receive therapy are less 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
- Develop suicidal ideation and self-harm
DCAC coordinates a multidisciplinary team approach in response to allegations of severe child abuse in Dallas County. We facilitate a comprehensive, coordinated approach to these cases that not only results in more successful investigation and prosecution outcomes, but also provides a better and less traumatic response to the child victims and their families. The MDT is coordinated by the DCAC Coordination team that includes forensic interviewers, mental health therapist, family assistance case managers, and researchers, as well as the following partners:
- 27 Dallas County Law Enforcement Agencies
- Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (including Child Protective Services, Child Protective Investigations, Child Care Licensing, and Adult Protective Services)
- Texas Department of Public Safety
- Texas Health and Human Services Commission
- Dallas County District Attorney’s Office
- Dallas County Southwestern Institute for Forensic Sciences
- Children’s Health
- The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas Department of Pediatrics