The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office has undertaken the creation of the Monmouth County Child Advocacy Center, a facility for those caring for the children of Monmouth County who are affected by child abuse and neglect. A Child Advocacy Center (CAC) is a child-focused environment designed to reduce the trauma to child abuse victims and their families often created when a child discloses sexual abuse, physical abuse or neglect.
Communities which have established CACs have found that there are many benefits: reduction in the number of interviews conducted with a child; more immediate follow-up to child abuse reports; more efficient medical and mental health referrals; increased successful prosecution; and consistent support for child victims and their families. A CAC provides a comfortable, private, child-friendly setting that is both physically and psychologically safe for a diverse population of children and their families.
The The Board of Chosen Freeholders has dedicated a site for the CAC on Kozloski Road, Freehold Township.The first phase of the CAC, which provides a child-friendly and child-appropriate location for professionals to gather for the interview and other initial steps in the response to child abuse investigations, was opened in 2009. A public/private partnership has been forged by the formation of a non-profit corporation, namely, The Friends of the Monmouth County Child Advocacy Center (MCCAC). The Friends of the MCCAC consists of community citizens who are helping to raise the funds to build the center. Through local, state, county and federal agencies, government funding has also been instrumental in the creation of Phase I, and is being pursued for Phase II, which will add a medical suite for physical examinations of child victims, mental health treatment rooms for both individual and group therapy, as well as additional staff office space to strengthen the ability to operate in a coordinated manner.
Child Advocacy Centers exist all over the country, including several in New Jersey. They are an important step toward state-of-the-art care and protection of our county’s most vulnerable citizens.