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Information for Caregivers

It can be extremely difficult for children to talk about their abuse. As trusted adults, our reaction to a report of child abuse is crucial in helping them feel safe.

Your reaction will have a major effect on your child. To be supportive, it is important to:


It is hard to believe that someone— especially someone you or your family may know—may have harmed a child. Let the child know they are not to blame for what happened. Praise the child for being brave and for telling someone.


Hearing that a child has been hurt can bring up strong emotions. If you appear upset or angry, this will only make it more difficult for the child to talk about what happened.


Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask a professional for help. This can be a very difficult process for you and the child. Contact the Children’s Advocacy Center for support and resources.

If you are referred to the Children’s Advocacy Center, the following information will be helpful.

Why are we being referred to the Children’s Advocacy Center?

The Children’s Advocacy Center has received a referral from either Children and Youth Services or law enforcement about a concern that your child is an alleged victim of abuse and/or witness of a crime. A visit to the CAC gives them the opportunity to talk about their experience in a child-friendly and safe setting.

What happens next?

Our staff will call you to schedule an appointment. An excuse will be provided if your appointment causes you or the child to miss school or work.

How do I prepare for the appointment?

  • Tell the child they are coming to the Children’s Advocacy Center to speak with a person who talks with lots of kids/people.
  • Give the child permission to talk with the interviewer.
  • Tell the child to talk about things that are true and really happened.
  • Tell the child the Children’s Advocacy Center is a safe place to talk about anything, even if they have never told you.
  • Make sure the child gets a good night’s sleep.
  • Make sure the child has eaten a meal before the appointment.

Don’t do the following:

  • Don’t tell your child what to say.
  • Don’t ask your child about the allegations.
  • Don’t promise treats or rewards for talking.
  • Don’t try to answer questions you don’t have the answers for.
  • Don’t talk about the investigation/allegations in front of your child.

Should I bring anything to the appointment?

The CAC has age-appropriate toys; however, you are welcome to bring a comfort item, activity and/or snack.

When you arrive

The CAC is a secure facility. Our doors are always locked. Ring the doorbell and tell us who you are. When you enter the building, you and the child will be greeted by the CAC staff. Let the staff know of any new concerns or issues the child has shared with you. A staff person will give you and the child a tour of the center and will tell you what to expect during the appointment, step-by-step.

While we understand this is a difficult time, we discourage extra people attending the appointment. This is a time for you and the child to have time with the staff, advocates and the investigative team. We respect the child’s confidentiality and want to ensure their best interests are being met.

What happens during the appointment?

The child will talk to a trained child forensic interviewer. The interview is for fact finding only. It is not a counseling session or psychological evaluation. The child will be interviewed using child-focused and child-appropriate questions.

The interview is recorded and observed by an investigative team. The team is made up of the investigating officer, child protection caseworker, and a representative of the county’s District Attorney’s office. This approach ensures that your child is not interviewed numerous times.

During the child’s interview you will meet with a victim advocate in a private waiting room. A victim advocate is a professional trained to support victims of crime. This is a time for you to talk with the advocate about concerns, questions, or next steps in the process.

Will my child have a medical exam?

Your child will have a medical exam at the CAC with a pediatrician from Mount Nittany Health after the interview. The exam includes a head-to-toe physical exam. The exam is non-invasive. You can be present for this exam.

How will I know how the appointment went?

Before you leave, you will have time to meet privately with your Mutildisciplinary Team. They will provide you with an update on how the appointment went, and what their next steps for the case will be. The child will stay in the waiting area with a staff person so you can talk freely with the team.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to the team at the CAC with any questions or concerns. Even if we are not the appropriate place to address your questions or concerns, we will help get you in contact with the appropriate service(s).