- Departments Q - Z
- Social Services
- Child Advocacy Center
Child Advocacy Center
The mission of the Orange County Child Advocacy Center (CAC) is to provide a safe place for child victims of abuse and their families; to offer an array of services during the investigative phase of a sexual and/or physical abuse allegation.
Our first priority is to minimize the trauma to the children and their families by providing a safe and neutral, child-friendly environment. With a coordinated response, the CAC works in a manner that supports and protects children and their families.
The CAC collaborates with various agencies throughout Orange County to form a Multidisciplinary Team. This partnership aids in minimizing trauma to the child by avoiding having to re-tell their story multiple times.
At the center we provide a variety of comprehensive trauma-informed services to the victim and their non-offending caregiver.
These services can include but are not limited to:
Emotional Support and Advocacy
Mental Health Treatment
Community Education and Outreach
CAC’s are not walk-in facilities. Each case of child abuse must be reported to the New York State Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment or to the police for it to be referred to a Child Advocacy Center.
Call the New York State Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-342-3720
For questions regarding the Orange County Child Advocacy Center please reach out to the CAC Coordinator, Dana Newman at dfa5a33.sm.CAC@dfa.state.ny.us
- Physical Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Responding to Abuse
- Mandated Reporter's Info
The CAC allows a multi-disciplinary team to conduct legally sound interviews in compliance with The National Children’s Alliance and the New York State Children’s Alliance. Collaborating agencies refer cases to the CAC to conduct forensic interviews and refrain from conducting duplicative interviews unless otherwise absolutely necessary. The objective of the CAC is to reduce trauma to children and their families by conducting a coordinated investigation in a child friendly environment.
Emotional support and advocacy
Victim advocacy services will be provided to all child victims and their non-offending family members. Victim advocates shall provide families with objective and knowledgeable support throughout the investigation. Victim advocates may act as a liaison between various systems (health, legal, mental health, family, public assistance, etc.) and provide emotional support as the family interfaces with these systems. The role of the advocate during the forensic interview is to participate in information sharing, inform the family about the multidisciplinary team response as well as assess the needs of the child and non-offending caregivers.
All children who are potential victims are offered a medical evaluation. The purpose of a medical evaluation is to help ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of the child. The medical team will diagnose, document, and address medical conditions resulting from the abuse. They will identify injuries and determine if further medical intervention is necessary. They will differentiate medical findings that are indicative of abuse from those that may be explained by other medical conditions or be normal variants.
Mental Health Treatment
The multi-disciplinary team can refer all victims and non-offending family members to specialized trauma focused mental health services. The CAC recognizes that proper trauma focused mental health services are essential to the recovery of victims and realizes the importance of engaging the child and family in counseling as soon as possible.
Community Education and Outreach
The CAC can provide education and outreach to the community regarding child abuse and maltreatment, its effects, how to seek help when abuse or maltreatment is suspected, and services provided by the CAC.
A child less than 18 years of age whose physical, mental or emotional condition has been impaired or is in imminent danger of becoming impaired as a result of the failure of his or her parent or other person legally responsible for his care to exercise a minimum degree of care or a child who has been abandoned by his/her parents or other person legally responsible for his/her care.
Signs of Neglect
Frequently absent from school
Steals or begs for food and money
Lacks medical care (including dental and vision)
Dirty and emitting body odor
Lack of sufficient clothing for the weather
Drug and/or alcohol abuse
Malnutrition and failure to thrive
Lack of supervision
Child Physical Abuse
Is when a person hurts or lets someone hurt a child physically or creates substantial risk that a child will be hurt. There must be a serious injury or a risk of serious injury such as a severe burn, a broken bone, the loss of a body part, an internal injury or death. The injury or risk of injury must not be due to an accident.
Signs of Physical Abuse
Changes in Habits:
Abuses animals or pets
Shrinks at the approach of adults or certain adults
Excessive corporal punishments
Child Sexual Abuse
Is when a person commits a sexual offense against a child or allows someone else to do this. Sexual abuse includes both touching and non-touching sexual offenses (OCFS)
-Examples of touching offenses include: fondling, intercourse, and sodomy (oral or anal sex acts)
-Examples of non-touching offenses include: using a child in pornographic or sexually explicit video or picture, distributing such a video or picture, or using a child as a prostitute
Under New York Penal Law, it is illegal for an adult of age 18 or older to have any kind of sexual contact with a person under 17 years of age, regardless of whether the encounter was consensual.
Signs of Sexual Abuse
Has difficulty walking or sitting
Suddenly refusing to do previously enjoyed activities
Nightmares or bedwetting
Sudden change in appetite
Demonstrates sophisticated or bizarre knowledge of sexual topics
Experience bleeding, bruising or swelling in their private areas
Attaches very quickly to stranger
Displays inappropriate boundaries
Becomes pregnant or contracts an STD
Responding to Abuse
When a child discloses abuse it is important to:
Be Calm and patient
Acknowledge their feelings and that its hard to talk about
Let them tell you their story in their own words
Give them time to talk about their experience
Respect that they may only tell you some details
Use supportive language
Ask open-ended questions such as:
How do you feel about that?
What can I do for you?
Let them know you want to protect them
Write notes about what they have said
Contact an appropriate person (Child Protective or Law Enforcement)
Tell them if you don’t know an answer you will help them find out
Tell them you are going to find someone to help them
What to Avoid
Don’t ask too many questions
Don’t ask questions that suggest blame
Don’t pressure the child for information
Don’t express anger about the abuse
Don’t confront the alleged abuser
Mandated Reporter's Information
Who is a mandated reporter?
Those who work in a youth serving organization
If you have a reasonable cause to suspect that a child is unsafe, make the report.
Anyone reporting in good faith is protected against civil/criminal penalty or adverse employment action
You do not need proof to make a report Trust your instincts
A trained specialist at the state central registry will help determine if the information you have is enough to make a report
Or if in immediate danger call 911
CAC Additional Resources
- 2021 Mandated Rep Ref Guide-English
- Adult Information Sheet
- Disclosure What-To-Do OC
- Follow the ABCs of Safe Sleep-english
- Follow the ABCs of Safe Sleep-Spanish
- Follow the ABCs of Safe Sleep-Yidish
- HELP PREVENT CHILD ABUSE-English
- HELP PREVENT CHILD ABUSE-Spanish
- Help Someone One Page RAINN
- HELPFUL TIPS TO KEEP YOUR BABY SAFE at PLAY-English
- HELPFUL TIPS TO KEEP YOUR BABY SAFE SIDS-English
- Keeping Sleeping Babies Safe-English
- Keeping Sleeping Babies Safe-Spanish
- Mandated Reporter Information Sheet
- OC Private Part
- Orange Country Super Body Safety Rules
- Rec and Reporting Child Abuse-English
- Rec and Reporting Child Abuse-Spanish
- Recognizing Child Abuse
- Resilience and Child Traumatic Stress-Spanish
- Responding to Disclosures of Child Abuse
- Signs of Child Abuse
- Tips for Talking to Children About Child Abuse
- Water Safety Tips for Children with Special Needs
- Water Safety Tips-Final
- Your Bodily Rights OC