Child Advocacy Centers

How the CAC Model Works

What Is a CAC?

To understand what a Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) is, you must understand what children face without one. Without a CAC, the child may end up having to tell the worst story of his or her life over and over again, to doctors, cops, lawyers, therapists, investigators, judges, and others. They may have to talk about that traumatic experience in a police station where they think they might be in trouble, or may be asked the wrong questions by a well-meaning teacher or other adult that could hurt the case against the abuser.

When police or child protective services believe a child is being abused, the child is brought to the CAC—a safe, child-focused environment—by a caregiver or other “safe” adult. At the CAC, the child tells their story once to a trained interviewer who knows the right questions to ask in a way that does not not retraumatize the child. Then, a team that includes medical professionals, law enforcement, mental health, prosecution, child protective services, victim advocacy, and other professionals make decisions together about how to help the child based on the interview. CACs offer therapy and medical exams, plus courtroom preparation, victim advocacy, case management, and other services. This is called the multidisciplinary team (MDT) response and is a core part of the work of CACs.

What Is the National Children’s Alliance?

NCA is the national association and accrediting body for a network of more than 850 Children’s Advocacy Centers—CACs. We provide support, advocacy, quality assurance, and national leadership for CACs, all to help support the important work that CACs do in communities across the country. CACs provide a coordinated, evidence-based response to children who have been abused in all 50 states.

The Process of a CAC and Its Partners

For more detail, see this flowchart of how children and families go through the CAC investigation and intervention process and case decisions are made.

View as a PDF: CAC Model PDF

Missouri Child Advocacy Centers

In Missouri, 15 regional child advocacy centers provide services to all 114 counties, and the City of St. Louis.  Most services provided by a child advocacy center require a referral from investigative partners, but we encourage you to locate, and connect with, your local child advocacy center to stay apprised of community events and ways to support CACs’ mission to facilitate justice and healing for children and families.

To download a map of Missouri CAC service areas, please click here

Child Advocacy Services of Greater St. Louis

St. Louis, MO


Ozark Foothills Child Advocacy Center

Poplar Bluff, MO

Child Protection Center

Kansas City, MO

Rainbow House Regional Child Advocacy Center

Columbia, MO

Child Safe of Central Missouri

Sedalia, MO


Cape Girardeau, MO

Children’s Center of Southwest Missouri

Joplin, MO

Synergy Services, Inc.

Kansas City, MO

East Central Child Advocacy Center

Festus, MO

The Child Advocacy Center, Inc.

Springfield, MO

Kids Harbor Child Advocacy Center

Osage Beach, MO

The Child Center, Inc.

Wentzville, MO

Lakes Area Child Advocacy Center

Branson West, MO

Voices of Courage (Formerly Northwest Missouri Children’s Advocacy Center)

St. Joseph, MO

North Central Missouri Children’s Advocacy Center

Trenton, MO


For immediate help, please call Missouri’s Statewide Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: 1-800-392-3738

Missouri KidsFirst is not a 24-hour service provider and does not provide crisis services.

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