Prosecutors Applaud Endowment Act Funding of Children’s Advocacy Centers
HARRISBURG, PA — Pennsylvania prosecutors applauded the Commonwealth’s announcement today that $3.4 million in funding would be released as a result of the Pennsylvania Endowment Act, including $1.3 million to support Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs).
Since 2012, the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association has advocated that a significant portion of the Endowment Act funding should be dedicated to expanding the availability of CACs throughout the state.
“Pennsylvania’s prosecutors have long believed that the Endowment Act funding must be used to help Pennsylvania emerge as a leader in child victim services,” said Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association President and Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman. “By receiving these funds, CACs will be accessible to more children and families and will have a long and incredibly positive impact on child protection in Pennsylvania.”
CACs are county-based, utilizing multi-disciplinary teams providing proven, child-friendly and child-centered comprehensive services in the areas of child abuse prevention, investigation and healing for victims and their families. Currently, Pennsylvania has 24 CACs located in 23 counties. Their lack of geographic reach and sustainable funding currently make it impossible for their services to be utilized by all child victims of sexual abuse and other crimes.
Research demonstrates that child abuse investigations handled through a Children’s Advocacy Center have a shorter length of time to disposition, better prosecution outcomes, higher rates of caregiver and child satisfaction, more referrals to mental health services and better access to medical care. Anecdotally, use of this model results in more guilty plea agreements sparing victims the further trauma of testifying at trial.
“District Attorneys who are fortunate enough to have Children’s Advocacy Centers in their communities have seen their tremendous success on behalf of victims and justice,” Ferman said. “By supporting CACs, today’s funding announcement will better position Pennsylvania to protect children from abuse, obtain convictions against abusers, provide care and treatment for victims and educate the public on how to recognize and report these terrible crimes.”