Children's Advocacy Centres

Melissa Lindsay
Research and Statistics Division


The views expressed herein are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice Canada.

Children’s Advocacy Centres (CACs) "are a seamless, coordinated and collaborative approach to addressing the needs of child victims or children who have witnessed crime. CACs seek to minimize system-induced trauma by providing a child-friendly setting for child victims or witnesses and their families."Footnote 1 This fact sheet provides an overview of research findings on several features of Children’s Advocacy Centres that are based on research conducted in the United States.


There is much variability among CACs in how they are structured and the processes that they follow.Footnote 2 CACs can differ in their community characteristics, organizational base, developmental stage, referral processes, interagency involvement and relationships, and agency objectives. This variability affects "who the CACs serve, what CACs do, and what outcomes they might have."Footnote 3

Coordination and Collaboration

Communities with Children’s Advocacy Centres (CACs) use more coordinated and collaborative investigations than communities without CACs, including more multidisciplinary team interviews, videotaped interviews, and joint investigations with child protection agencies and the police.Footnote 4

Forensic Interviewing in Child-Friendly Facilities

Children who receive services from a CAC are more likely to be interviewed in a child-friendly facility than children who do not receive services from CAC.Footnote 5

Forensic Medical Exams

Children who receive services from CACs are more likely to receive a forensic medical examination than children who receive services from a non-CAC organization.Footnote 6

Mental Health Services

Children’s advocacy centres refer more children for mental health services than non-CACs.Footnote 7

Parent and Child Satisfaction with Investigation

Criminal Justice Outcomes

One study found that the charging decision time is shorter when a CAC is involved in comparison to communities without a CAC.Footnote 10

Cost Savings

Investigations conducted by CACs are cost effective;Footnote 11 one study found that investigations conducted by a CAC resulted in a 36% cost savings when compared to investigations conducted by a non-CAC.Footnote 12