Historic First for PA: Children’s Advocacy Centers Included in Budget Proposal

February 4, 2014

First time, $2 million line item will help state directly address issue of child abuse.

Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania’s Children’s Advocacy Centers (CAC) were included for the first time in Pennsylvania’s history in today’s budget proposal, with a $2 million line item. CACs currently lack a dedicated funding source in Pennsylvania and yet are considered a national model for addressing the issues related to the prosecution, treatment, healing and prevention of child abuse. Finding dedicated funding for CACs has been among the top priorities for the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association.

“District Attorneys across Pennsylvania support Children’s Advocacy Centers because they are the epitome of our motto: ‘Do the right thing for the right reasons,’” said PDAA President and Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed. “The Governor’s budget proposal is a great start. We appreciate Governor Corbett’s recognition that CACs are deserving of support and we look forward to working with him and the legislature to ensure that this money remains and that CACs will eventually have a steady, stable stream of funding.”

Expanding access to CACs has been a PDAA priority because of the model of comprehensive services and the focus on the treatment, prosecution and prevention of child abuse. Studies have found that the CAC approach reduces the costs of investigations and results in faster charging decisions. The funding for CACs in today’s budget proposal begins to fulfill the key recommendation of the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection’s recommendation to expand CAC access to child victims. Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler chaired the Task Force.

“Healing begins at a Children’s Advocacy Center and with today’s budget proposal, we are another step closer to CACs becoming the standard, rather than the exception,” Freed said. “In addition to this line-item, we look forward to continuing to work with the leaders in Harrisburg to enact legislation establishing a dedicated funding stream for CACs.”

Currently Pennsylvania has 23 CACs located in 22 counties and there is no dedicated funding source supporting their efforts. Instead, CACs must rely on individual fundraising and local support to keep their doors open and access to their services available. As a result, many child sexual assault victims simply do not have access to a CAC and its child-friendly, child-centered, one-stop-shop services.