Harmony House is a Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC). A CAC is a comprehensive, child-focused program based in a facility that allows prosecutors, law enforcement, child protective service workers, medical and mental health professionals, and victim advocates to work together to strengthen our community’s response to child abuse.
Harmony House exists to ensure that no child is further victimized by systems designed to protect her or him.
The child’s well-being is the first priority.
CACs support and coordinate the efforts of a multidisciplinary team (MDT) of professionals consisting of:
Law enforcement investigators
Child protective service workers
Mental Health Professionals
In many communities, other local service providers also serve on the MDIT. In the neutral setting of the CAC, team members can collaborate on strategies that will aid investigators and prosecutors without causing further harm to the child. This innovative multidisciplinary approach significantly increases the likelihood of a successful outcome in court and long-term healing for the abused child, the most vulnerable of crime victims.
CAC Multidisciplinary teams collaborate to:
- Coordinate investigations
- Limit, when possible, the number of times each child is interviewed
- Provide comfortable, child-friendly settings for interviews
- Reduce the child victims’ travel to investigative agencies
- Coordinate medical and mental health services
- Increase public awareness about the incidence and impact of child abuse
Effects of Child Abuse
There are four main categories of child abuse: sexual, physical, emotional and neglect. Child abuse can have both short-term and long-term consequences. These include:
- Low self-esteem and lack of trust
- Depression, fear, anger, shame and anxiety
- Regressive behaviors such as bed wetting
- Suicidal ideation
- Sleep disturbances
- Health problems including physical injuries and neurological damage
- Eating disorders and other forms of self harm
- Repeat sexual victimization
- Violence towards others
- Chronic perceptions of danger and confusion