San Bernardino, California
Children's Assessment Center
Prior to the opening of the Children's Assessment Center, abused children referred to Child Protective Services often had to endure a number of interviews performed by the multiple agencies involved in the investigation of the case. Many times, victimized children suffered unnecessary trauma in this process.
In an effort to minimize that trauma, a task force was established by the Children's Network Policy Council in 1992 to explore the possibility of creating a quality comprehensive program to provide forensic interviews and evidentiary medical exams in one child-friendly location for sexually abused children in San Bernardino County. The task force consisted of representatives from Child Protective Services, County Medical Center, Public Health, Behavioral Health, District Attorney's office, Sheriff's Office, Juvenile Court, Family Law Court, County Counsel, Children's Network, Children's Fund and Loma Linda University Medical Center.
In January 1994, the Children’s Fund Assessment Center opened in partnership between the County of San Bernardino and Loma Linda University Children's Hospital. In 1998 these services were extended to victims of physical abuse.
The CAC's needs have increased dramatically and has recently relocated to a larger, state-of-the-art facility located in San Bernardino. The Center is on track to treat 1,600 physically and/or sexually abused children this year.
Services at the Center include forensic interviews by DCS workers who have received specialized training in child forensic interviewing. Evidentiary medical exams are performed by Physicians who are Forensic Pediatric Specialists. Written reports are provided regarding the outcomes of the interview and medical appointment. Crisis intervention and referrals for counseling are provided to family members by a Victim Witness Advocate from the District Attorney’s office assigned at the Center.
Child victims of alleged abuse ages 0-18 are referred to the Children's Assessment Center for services from either a law enforcement agency, Family Law Court or the Department of Children's Services. Caregivers can receive crisis intervention services as well as referral services.