NCA STANDARDS FOR ACCREDITATION
Below are the Standards for Accreditation by the National Children’s Alliance and the Best Practices for CACs.
Standards for Accreditation by the National Children’s Alliance:
- MULTI-DISCIPLINARY TEAM: a multidisciplinary team for response to child abuse allegations includes representation from law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, medical, mental health, victim advocacy, and a children’s advocacy center.
- CULTURAL COMPETENCY & DIVERSITY: culturally competent services are routinely made available to all CAC clients and coordinated with the multidisciplinary team response.
- FORENSIC INTERVIEWS: forensic interviews are conducted in a manner that is legally sound, of a neutral, fact finding nature, and are coordinated to avoide duplicative interviewing.
- VICTIM ADVOCACY/SUPPORT: victim support and advocacy services are routinely made available to all CAC clients and their non-offending family members as part of the multidisciplinary team response.
- MEDICAL EVALUATION: specialized medical evaluation and treatment services are routinely made available to all CAC clients and coordinated with the multidisciplinary team response.
- MENTAL HEALTH: specialized trauma-focused mental health services, designed to meet the unique needs of the children and non-offending family members, are routinely made available as part of the multidisciplinary team response.
- CASE REVIEW: a formal process in which multidisciplinary discussion and information sharing regarding the investigation, case status and services needed by the child and family is to occur on a routine basis.
- CASE TRACKING: children’s advocacy centers must develop and implement a system for monitoring case progress and tracking case outcomes for all MDT components.
- ORGANIZATIONAL CAPACITY: a designated legal entity responsible for program and fiscal operations has been established and implements basic sound administrative policies and procedures.
- CHILD FOCUSED SETTING: the child focused setting is comfortable, private, and both physically and psychologically safe for diverse populations of children and their non-offending family members.
The Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) is the foundation of the CAC model. This NCA Accreditation Standard requires centers to have a multidisciplinary response to child abuse allegations that includes representation from, at a minimum, law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, medical, mental health, victim advocacy, and the Children’s Advocacy Center.
Cultural competency is the capacity to function in more than one culture, with the ability to appreciate, understand, and interact with members of diverse populations within the local community. To be effective, both the organization, and its staff and volunteers, must strive to become culturally competent. This NCA Standard for Accreditation states that culturally competent services are routinely made available to all CAC clients and coordinated with the Multidisciplinary Team response.
There are four primary components to becoming culturally competent:
- Awareness of one’s own cultural world view,
- Attitude towards cultural differences,
- Knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews, and
- Cross-cultural skills.
Forensic interviews should be conducted by well-trained professionals in a child-friendly, developmentally appropriate setting. The purpose of a forensic interview is to provide the child the opportunity to talk with a trained professional about their experience. They are often the cornerstone of the criminal aspects of the child abuse investigation. This NCA Standard for Accreditation states that forensic interviews are to be conducted in a manner that is legally sound, of a neutral, fact finding nature, and are coordinated to avoid duplicative interviewing.
To meet the forensic interview standard, you must be able to show that your center’s forensic interviewers have completed one of these:
- A competency-based child abuse forensic interview training that includes child development. The curriculum must be approved by NCA, or
- 40 hours of nationally or state recognized forensic interview training that includes child development.
NCA recognizes the following national and state models for purposes of accreditation:
- National Children’s Advocacy Center
- Finding Words
- Child First
- First Witness
- APSAC – 40 hour version
- Childhood Trust
NCA has approved training provided by these states (in some cases less than 40 hours):
- Alaska – Child First
- Arizona – Arizona State Training
- California – CFIT
- Colorado State Training
- Florida State Training
- Hawaii State Training
- Michigan- Michigan State Training
- Montana State Training
- New York – FI Training
- North Carolina RADAR
- Ohio – Beyond the Silence Part 1 and 2 (must complete both)
- OLD AISAIS Alaska Training
- Provo, UT training – approved for their team only
- Oregon – Oregon State Training
- Texas State Training
- SLC NICHD (formerly Salt Lake FIT)
Victim advocates provide on-going support to child victims and their non-offending family members. Advocates are often with the family “for the long haul”, providing services throughout the investigation, prosecution and beyond. This NCA Standard for Accreditation states that victim support and advocacy services are routinely made available to all CAC clients and their non-offending family members as part of the multidisciplinary team response.
Victim advocates may be systems-based (Victim/Witness Advocates in Prosecutor’s offices) or community-based (Victim Advocates associated with non-profit agencies such as Community Sexual Assault Programs).
This NCA Standard for Accreditation states that specialized medical evaluation and treatment services are routinely made available to all CAC clients and coordinated with the Multidisciplinary Team response.
Children’s Advocacy Centers and teams should work with the specialized medical personnel in their community to develop screening criteria and protocols for medical evaluations. Medical evaluations provide an opportunity for obtaining an accurate history and documentation of any medical findings of the abuse and to provide reassurance to child victims and their families.
The Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA) has exceptions for investigation of child abuse and neglect. Confusion about HIPAA has occasionally resulted in a reluctance or refusal to share information. These three papers help clarify the issue:
Sample Linkage Agreements
This NCA Standard for Accreditation states that specialized trauma-focused mental health services, designed to meet the unique needs of children and non-offending family members, be routinely made available as part of the multidisciplinary team response. There are several models of trauma-informed mental health services. In addition, provision of culturally competent services includes access to therapy that may be traditional or faith-based.
There are currently two forms of evidence based treatment primarily being used by North Carolina CACs, TF-CBT and PCIT.
Trauma Focused Cognitive Behaviorial Therapy (TF-CBT)
Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)
Case Review brings the team together to share information about current cases, develop plans for child victims and their families, and coordinate activities. In addition, Case Review provides team members with an opportunity to learn more about the roles and responsibilities of each agency and make use of the professional expertise available. It is also a place where trust, respect, and appreciation and develop and strengthen the overall team functioning. This NCA Standard for Accreditation states that Case Review is a formal process in which multidisciplinary discussion and information sharing regarding the investigation of case status and services needed by the child and family is to occur on a routine basis.
SAMPLE CASE REVIEW PROCESS FORMS
SAMPLE GUIDELINES and CONFIDENTIALITY STATEMENTS
Case Tracking is the process of collecting data on each case that comes through the CAC. Case tracking systems can be simple or elaborate, but the main functions are to have accurate data about the services provided by the CAC and to enable MDT members to track the status of a case. This NCA Standard for Accreditation states that Children’s Advocacy Centers must develop and implement a system for monitoring case progress and tracking case outcomes from all MDT components.
At a minimum, CACs must track:
- demographic information about the child and family
- demographic information about the alleged offender
- type(s) of abuse
- relationship of the alleged offender to the child
- MDT involvement and outcomes
- charges filed and case disposition in criminal court
- child protection outcomes, and
- status/outcome of medical and mental health referrals
This standard speaks to the ability of the organization sponsoring the CAC to meet the professional and organizational standards for operation of a CAC and to having the capacity to sustain and continue to develop the center and its team. This NCA Standard for Accreditation states that a designated entity responsible for the program and fiscal operations has been established and implements basic sound administrative policies and procedures.
Although much of the information contained in this section applies to nonprofit organizations, any CAC director can benefit from a better understanding of how to manage an organization.
There are four basic models of CAC organizations:
- Hospital-based (located in, or sponsored by, a hospital)
- Public (Prosecutor’s Offices, Law Enforcement Organizations, Children’s Services, etc.)
- Private non-profit (stand-alone non-profit agencies where the CAC is the primary program)
- Umbrella agencies (large, multi-purpose organizations where the CAC is a program of the larger agency.
Board of Directors
- Great Boards: Distinguishing Governance and Management
- Ten Basic Board Responsibilities
- Board Essentials: What Should All Board Members Know
- All about Boards of Directors: Free Online Toolkit
- Sample Bylaws
- Roberts Rule of Order
- NCA Policy on Critical Incident Reporting
- CACNC Critical Response Plan
- Disaster Preparation Manual
- Disaster Recovery Guide
- Financial Self Assessment Tool
- All About Financial Management of NonProfits
- Should You Outsource Your Bookkeeping?
- NonProfit Bookkeeping: What Should You Ask
- Sample Audit Bid Letter
- Sample Audit Checklist
Grant Writing and Capital Campaigns
- Proposal Writing: Short Online Courses
- Writing a Successful Grant Proposal
- NC State Audit Grant Reporting
- Guidestar: A NonProfit 990 Search Engine
- Just Enough Planning Guide: A Roadmap for Capital Campaigns
- Just Enough Planning Tool for Capital Campaigns
Children’s Advocacy Centers exist to provide a safe, developmentally appropriate, and comfortable place for children and their families to access the services they need to begin the process of healing. While there is no one way to decorate or design a CAC, NCA Standard for Accreditation states that the child-focused setting be comfortable, private and both psychologically and physically safe for diverse populations of children and their non-offending family members. Although the average age of children served at CACs is 8 years, care should be taken to make sure children of all ages feel comfortable and welcome in your center. In addition, the space has to provide a space for live observation of interviews by MDT members and space for team members to meet with families in private.