What is a Child Advocacy Center?

There are two separate things. There are child advocates, known as CASAs, and there are child advocacy centers. CASAs do not work at or staff child advocacy centers. CASA advocates work through the CASA office which is manned by the Executive Director and the Case Manager.

They fulfill two different roles. A CASA advocate meets with the child in their home, goes to court to express that child’s opinions, and makes sure a child’s needs are being met. A child advocacy center helps to coordinate the interview and investigation of cases that involve children that may lead to criminal charges against the alleged abuser. The interviews done at child advocacy centers are called forensic interviews.  CASA advocates never carry out forensic interviews or ask questions that would be pertinent to a criminal case. A CASA advocate is more likely to ask things such as, “How is school going for you now?”, “What kind of things do you and Mom do when you visit with her?” and finally, “Is there anything you would want the court to know about your foster home?”

A forensic interview is described as such, “A forensic interview is conducted at the Child Advocacy Center when there has been a report to law enforcement or the Department of Health and Human Services that the child may have been a victim of physical or sexual abuse or when a child may have witnessed a violent crime…Only professionals directly involved in the investigation are allowed to observe the interview. This is done to reduce the possible stress that can be placed on a child and to provide a neutral setting for the child and the investigation.”

To learn more about forensic interviews see this video. 

Cases that require forensic interviews in our locale are sent to the Carrie Lynn Center, which is an awesome child-focused, child-friendly organization in Rockford. To learn more about the Carrie Lynn Center and the skyrocketing founded instances of child abuse in our local area read the article Carrie Lynn Center at center of fight as Winnebago County child abuse rates outpace state average.

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