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Dec/Jan 2005Vol. 5, No. 10Evaluating the Effectiveness of Child Advocacy Centers

Administrators of child advocacy centers (CACs) have a new resource for evaluating their programs. The National Institute of Justice has recently published a comprehensive manual for program evaluations, focusing on the membership standards of the National Children's Alliance. A Resource for Evaluating Child Advocacy Centers is designed to meet the needs of CAC administrators for tools that specifically address CAC assessment.

Early chapters in the book introduce evaluation concepts and discuss the importance and benefits of program assessment. Separate chapters provide step-by-step guidance for three major types of evaluation:

  • Program monitoring evaluation
  • Outcome evaluation
  • Impact evaluation

There are also chapters on planning an evaluation, recruiting participants, collecting and analyzing data, and preparing the evaluation report.

First developed in the mid-1980s in response to criticism that child sexual abuse investigations were sometimes as harmful to children as the abuse itself, CACs use multidisciplinary teams, child-friendly facilities, and standardized procedures to minimize system-induced trauma to victims. Hundreds of CACs have been established to realize these goals, but whether they are succeeding has not been empirically evaluated. The development of this manual may help to promote more widespread evaluation.

This publication is available through the National Institute of Justice website, as a downloadable PDF document at (PDF - 1,812 KB)