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Founded in 2008, the Harcum House is a non-profit organization based on the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) model. CACs are community-based programs designed to meet the unique needs of a community, so no two CACs look exactly alike. They do, however, share the common goal of facilitating more effective prevention, detection, investigation, and treatment of child abuse. CACs bring together teams of professionals that include the vital resources of law enforcement, child protective services, victim service providers, prosecutors, medical personnel, mental health professionals, and community volunteers. This team works together to ensure that the best interests of these child victims are being served.


Child abuse is a multifaceted community problem, and no single agency, individual, or discipline has the necessary knowledge, skills, or resources to serve the needs of all children and their families. The combined wisdom and professional knowledge of professionals of different disciplines will result in a more complete understanding of case issues and the most effective, child and family-focused system response.


CACs work to ensure that children are not further victimized by the intervention systems designed to protect them.

Program objectives include:

  • Participating in a comprehensive multidisciplinary, developmentally and culturally appropriate response to child abuse designed to meet the needs of children and their families in a specific community

  • Establishing a neutral, child-friendly facility where interviews and/or services for abused children can be provided

  • Preventing trauma to the child caused by multiple, duplicative contacts with different professionals

  • Providing mental health treatment and other services to children and families

  • Maintaining open communication, information sharing, and case coordination among community professionals and agencies involved in child protection efforts so that case decision-making and policy development are enhanced

  • Coordinating and tracking investigative, prosecutorial, child protection, and treatment efforts so that cases do not “fall through the cracks”

  • Holding more offenders accountable through improved prosecution of child abuse cases

  • Enhancing the professional skills necessary to effectively respond to cases of child abuse through cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural training and support

  • Enhancing community awareness and understanding of child abuse


Communities that have developed a CAC experience many benefits, such as:

  • More immediate follow-up to child abuse reports

  • More efficient medical and mental health referrals

  • A reduction in the number of child interviews

  • Increased successful prosecutions

  • Consistent support for child victims and their families

Professionals involved in multidisciplinary work report:

  • Greater appreciation and understanding of the mission of other disciplines

  • Better access to cross-disciplinary training

  • More informed decision-making

This comprehensive approach, with follow-up services provided by a CAC, ensures that children receive child-focused services in a child-friendly environment – one in which the needs of children and families come first.

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