Dallas Children's Advocacy Center coordinates the investigation, prosecution and healing services for the most severe cases of child abuse in Dallas County - those that rise to the level of a criminal offense. Each year DCAC serves over 5,000 children (and their non-offending family members) who were sexually abused, severely physically abused, or who had witnessed a violent crime. Our average client is a 9-year-old girl, sexually abused by someone she knows and trusts.
DCAC houses the Child Abuse Unit of the Dallas Police Department, six units of CPS, and a Dallas County Assistant District Attorney. Having all of these professionals under one roof drives collaboration and communication in the very sensitive cases that DCAC coordinates. DCAC has 32 partners including 27 law enforcement agencies in Dallas County, Children's Health, the Dallas County District Attorney's Office, the Dallas County Southwestern Institute for Forensic Services, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (Child Protective Services, Child Care Licensing, Adult Protective Services), and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas - Department of Pediatrics.
After a child is referred to DCAC by law enforcement or CPS, a DCAC forensic interviewer listens to the child’s story by asking non-leading, developmentally-appropriate questions as the child talks about the trauma he/she has experienced. The interview is video recorded while law enforcement and CPS professionals observe it from a separate room. The forensic interview reduces trauma for the child and provides a stronger foundation if the case goes to court.
Children who have been victimized and receive therapy are less likely to:
DCAC coordinates a multi-disciplinary team approach in response to allegations of severe child abuse in Dallas County. We facilitate a comprehensive, coordinated approach to these cases that not only results in more successful investigation and prosecution outcomes, but also provides a better and less traumatic response to the child victims and their families. The MDT is coordinated by the DCAC Coordination team and consists a team of forensic interviewers, mental health therapist, family assistance case managers, research team, as well as the following partners:
The DCAC Forensic Interview Team assists Dallas County law enforcement and Child Protective Services investigators by conducting specialized and unique investigative interviews of children making an outcry of abuse. The goal of a forensic interview is to gather pertinent information from children in a neutral, non-leading, developmentally sensitive, and legally defensible manner.
Successful prosecution of child abuse cases begins with a thorough investigation. At the core of that investigation, the ability to ensure the safety and protection of children often starts with the initial forensic interview conducted by a trained professional.
The forensic interview process allows partner agencies to observe the interview as it is being conducted, allowing for a collaborative team approach to taking a child’s statement and therefore protecting the integrity of the information gathered. This approach allows investigative parties to thoroughly assess child safety issues and possible criminal offenses that may have been committed. The forensic interview is often a critical part of not only the initial investigation but also the criminal prosecution at trial. DCAC Forensic Interviewers are often called upon to provide both fact and expert witness testimony to aid in successful prosecution of offenders.
Family Advocates are committed to helping each family navigate the complex systems they enter when a child makes an outcry of abuse. As each case goes through the investigation, prosecution and healing process, the team is there to help the family understand the process, learn about their rights and successfully access resources that will help their family during crisis.
Clients receive information and referrals to community resources and assistance completing applications for Crime Victims Compensation. Families have access to clothing, toiletries, and financial assistance on an as-needed basis. Families also receive ongoing support through summer camps, a back to school drive, and holiday programs.
DCAC provides a safe place for children and their families to begin the healing process after experiencing criminal child abuse or witnessing a violent crime. Our Clinical Services team consists of masters and doctoral level therapists and clinical social workers who provide long-term, evidence-based, trauma-informed therapy. Because the trauma of abuse affects the whole family, our services are provided at no cost to each child and their non-offending family members.
DCAC's Clinical Services team works with each family to determine the best treatment options through standardized assessment procedures and collaboration.
DCAC's therapists receive extensive training (to certification, when applicable) in evidence-based therapy models. Because children and adolescents respond in many different ways to traumatic events, it is important that therapists are prepared to provide the very best therapy that research and science have to offer, including Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a conjoint child and parent psychotherapy approach for children and adolescents who are experiencing emotional and behavioral difficulties related to traumatic life events. This type of specialized treatment is rated a Model Program and Best Practice for use with abused and traumatized children.
Individual, family, and group therapy is offered for both children and their non-offending family members. Therapy services are offered in English and Spanish. Specialized therapy services available include:
*The animal-handler team must be registered with one of the following organizations. For additional information on animal-assisted therapy, please contact Sylvia Morris.
DCAC believes education and training is one of the community's best defenses against those who seek to harm children. DCAC’s education team delivers high quality training for professionals working in the field of crimes against children, mandated reporters and parents and the community at large. Our in-person and video-based curricula addresses a gap in the marketplace for comprehensive child abuse training. Training programs offered include:
DCAC's education team first began its community education initiative in Dallas County and has now made its programs appropriate for national use. The DCAC Training Center is a platform to host video-based curriculum for one-time users, as well as to facilitate resources to child serving organizations.
While DCAC is proud to be able to offer effective parenting programs to the caregivers of the children served at DCAC, the Center now offers positive parenting seminars in the community. The Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) is an evidence-based program to assist caregivers in enhancing their relationships with their children. This program has been found to be effective at teaching caregivers to encourage appropriate behaviors in their children, as well as be consistent in non-punitive discipline. Caregivers of DCAC clients have access to intensive parent programs at DCAC, as well as offer in positive parenting; raising confident, competent children; and raising resilient children in the community.
If you would like more information on educational trainings, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
DCAC’s Research Institute provides leadership on evidence-based practices, with a particular focus on the effectiveness of interventions, investigations, long-term outcomes, and prevention services for child abuse victims. DCAC’s Research Institute is a catalyst for nationwide, systematic, and transformative change. Guided by a national advisory board, the Institute’s staff collaborates with local, state, regional, and national partners to identify CAC-related research projects and to contribute to the advancement of child abuse literature.