Do Children's Advocacy Centers improve families' experiences of child sexual abuse investigations?
OBJECTIVE: The Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) model of child abuse investigation is designed to be more child and family-friendly than traditional methods, but there have been no rigorous studies of their effect on children's and caregivers' experience. Data collected as part of the Multi-Site Evaluation of Children's Advocacy Centers were used to examine whether CACs improve caregivers' and children's satisfaction with investigations. METHODS: Nonoffending caregiver and child satisfaction were assessed during research interviews, including the administration of a 14-item Investigation Satisfaction Scale (ISS) for caregivers. Two hundred and twenty-nine sexual abuse cases investigated through a CAC were compared to 55 cases investigated in communities with no CAC. RESULTS: Hierarchical linear regression results indicated that caregivers in CAC cases were more satisfied with the investigation than those from comparison sites, even after controlling for a number of relevant variables. There were few differences between CAC and comparison samples on children's satisfaction. Children described moderate to high satisfaction with the investigation, while a minority expressed concerns about their experience. CONCLUSIONS: The CAC model shows promise for improving families' experiences, but to build upon this promise, agencies will need to systematize procedures for refining and adapting the model as new research becomes available