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Child Physical Abuse: A Guide to the CAC Response

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2018
48 pages

This guide identifies considerations and differences in the response and intervention to child physical abuse for a Child Advocacy Center (CAC) currently serving sexually abused children and their families.


Despite the fact that CACs serve more victims of child sexual abuse than they do victims of child physical abuse (CPA), federal data indicate that physical abuse is far more common, suggesting that CACs without a specialized response to CPA may not be prepared to serve a large population of child abuse victims within their jurisdictions. The CAC model is appropriate for providing evidence-based services to child victims of physical abuse when the CAC and partnering multidisciplinary team (MDT) members have the capacity and resources necessary to serve these child victims. CPA cases often benefit from specialized mental health treatment and also require special considerations for medical services, victim advocacy, forensic interviewing, and MDT collaboration. As part of ongoing work to develop tools and guidance to improve CAC service delivery to children and families, the National Children's Alliance (NCA) convened a collaborative workgroup on the expansion of CAC delivery of evidence-based services to child victims of physical abuse. This group, which consists of professionals representing all of the disciplines required within the MDT disciplines, developed the information contained in this guide. The content is divided into four sections. One focuses on developing a capacity to service CPA victims. The second addresses services for the mental health needs of the victims. The third covers considerations for medical providers; and the fourth focuses on the role of the victim advocate in CPA cases. All sections should be read by all MDT members and CAC leadership, since an effective response to CPA requires an interdisciplinary understanding of the role of each provider of the MDT. A listing of 24 resources