Washtenaw Child Advocacy Center
Support, Protect, Advocate
The CSSW Washtenaw Child Advocacy Center (WCAC) is a child-focused program in which the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s office, local law enforcement agencies, mental health and medical professionals, and victims’ advocates work together to conduct forensic interviews and make team decisions about the investigation, treatment, and prosecution of child sexual abuse cases. WCAC helps minimize the trauma to children and families by offering crisis intervention services, coordinated case management, and emotional support as cases go through the legal system.
Since 1985, police, prosecutors, and the Department of Health and Human Services in Washtenaw County have worked collaboratively through a written protocol to investigate child abuse cases. In Spring 2002, these stakeholders met to discuss bringing a Child Advocacy Center to the county to better meet the needs of sexually abused children and their families.
In January 2003, and again in January 2005, stakeholders signed a Purpose Statement and Multi-Agency Agreement committing their effort, participation, and support of the WCAC and its implementation. We’re grateful for Washtenaw County’s commitment to protecting children.
In 2004, there were over 500 Child Advocacy Centers nationwide that were operational or developing. In Michigan, there are numerous Child Advocacy Centers operating or developing. Child Advocacy Centers are accredited by the National Children’s Alliance (NCA). To learn more about the NCA, visit www.nationalchildrensalliance.org
In 2005, after a multidisciplinary community team including health care, law enforcement, prosecution, and child protective services created the concept of a Child Advocacy Center for Washtenaw County, Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw County began the Washtenaw Child Advocacy Center (WCAC) and started providing forensic interviews and supports for victims of child sexual abuse. This program is initially housed at the Packard facility and now operates out of the Towner Building
The WCAC has been accredited through the National Children’s Alliance since 2009
The WCAC works with child abuse investigators across all disciplines provide a comprehensive and coordinated response to child abuse. Historically, children were interviewed by numerous professionals in multiple environments and were in the position of having to repeat their experience multiple times. At the WCAC a skilled and specialized highly-trained forensic interviewer conducts interviews of children in a child-friendly environment.
The WCAC provides access for children and families to obtain services which include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Forensic interviews, which alleviate the need for multiple interviews
- Crisis counseling
- Community resource assistance; and
- Referral services
To Get Started:
Only children referred by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services or law enforcement are eligible to receive forensic interviews and medical exams at the WCAC. There are no costs to participate.