Hi there! This is Blythe Spitsbergen, CARE House’s Executive Director. On the occasion of our 40th anniversary, I’ve been taking the time to revisit our history and consider how our organization has changed and grown. Maybe the biggest difference between then and now is that, when we opened in 1977, we didn’t provide forensic interviews or therapy services for suspected victims of child abuse. In fact, the child advocacy model that we follow today hadn’t even been invented yet.
That model began in Huntsville, Alabama, where a district attorney named Robert Cramer (nicknamed “Bud”) was experiencing difficulties prosecuting cases of child abuse due to failures of communication between the social service and criminal justice agencies. He was also able to see the effect that being shuttled through these agencies had on the child victim, particularly the distress that came from repeatedly reliving the trauma of abuse in multiple interviews.
In 1985, a group led by Cramer (who would go on to serve for nearly 20 years in the US House) developed an approach by which these agencies would work together as a multidisciplinary team in cases of suspected abuse, benefitting both the investigation and the child victim. Shortly thereafter, they began offering trainings for other professionals, which effectively established the National Children’s Advocacy Center and the CAC model.
CARE House was founded with an eye toward child abuse prevention efforts, but we adopted the CAC model in 1991, and have continued to work with Oakland County’s child abuse response professionals to provide this service to the community. Today there are over 800 children’s advocacy centers nationwide, and, last year, over311,000 children benefitted from CAC services; more than 1,000 of those children came to CARE House. I’m so grateful to be a part of CARE House where we get to help carry out this vision in Metro Detroit, and to the professionals who serve on our multidisciplinary team.
For more information on the CAC model, visit the National Children’s Advocacy Center’s website.