Child forensic interviewing in Children's Advocacy Centers: Empirical data on a practice model

Theodore P. Cross, Lisa M. Jones, Wendy A. Walsh, Monique Simone, David Kolko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs) aim to improve child forensic interviewing following allegations of child abuse by coordinating multiple investigations, providing child-friendly interviewing locations, and limiting redundant interviewing. This analysis presents one of the first rigorous evaluations of CACs' implementation of these methods. Methods: This analysis is part of a quasi-experimental study, the Multi-Site Evaluation of Children's Advocacy Centers, which evaluated four CACs relative to within-state non-CAC comparison communities. Case abstractors collected data on investigation methods in 1,069 child sexual abuse cases with forensic interviews by reviewing case records from multiple agencies. Results: CAC cases were more likely than comparison cases to feature police involvement in CPS cases (41% vs. 15%), multidisciplinary team (MDT) interviews (28% vs. 6%), case reviews (56% vs. 7%), joint police/child protective services (CPS) investigations (81% vs. 52%) and video/audiotaping of interviews (52% vs. 17%, all these comparisons p < .001). CACs varied in which coordination methods they used, and some comparison communities also used certain coordination methods more than the CAC with which they were paired. Eighty-five percent of CAC interviews took place in child-friendly CAC facilities, while notable proportions of comparison interviews took place at CPS offices (22%), police facilities (18%), home (16%), or school (19%). Ninety-five percent of children had no more than two forensic interviews, and CAC and comparison differences on number of interviews were mostly non-significant. Conclusions: Relative to the comparison communities, these CACs appear to have increased coordination on investigations and child forensic interviewing. The CAC setting was the location for the vast majority of CAC child interviews, while comparison communities often used settings that many consider undesirable. CACs showed no advantage on reducing the number of forensic interviews, which was consistently small across the sample.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1031-1052
Number of pages22
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Child interview
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Children's advocacy centers
  • Forensic investigations
  • Multidisciplinary coordination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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