These are all terms used for the same basic idea.
The national term is Children’s Advocacy Center (or CAC). CACs are a model for collaboration between agencies following an allegation of child abuse. CACs provide neutral, family-friendly facilities for conducting forensic interviews. Rather than a child being taken from agency to agency and having to tell his or her story multiple times, “the CAC model brings the system to the child, and brings the agency professionals together to work in a collaborative approach that results in effective, efficient and child-centered casework” (http://www.nationalchildrensalliance.org/cac-model). In many counties, children and family members can also receive mental health and advocacy services or referrals at the site.
In California, CACs are sometimes called Multi-disciplinary Interview Centers (MDIC). In counties where there is not a designated site for the interview, the term is Multi-disciplinary Team (MDT). In this report, we will use MDT, since the majority of respondents reported using that term.
The Center for Innovation and Resources (CIR) and Children’s Advocacy Centers of California (CACC, the state chapter of the National Children’s Alliance or NCA) work together along with many other organizations to increase the number of counties employing a multi-disciplinary approach to child abuse investigations in California. With funding from the California Children’s Justice Act Task Force and information from the National Children’s Alliance, CIR and CACC compiled this data summary.
Since MDTs are designed to meet the needs of each community, no two are alike. Data in a state as large and diverse as California forms a complex picture with many variables. At any one time there are well-established MDTs and others just beginning to form. There are MDTs that have traveled on a steady path, and those that have experienced setbacks. There are rural MDTs and urban MDTs. Many state, national and local efforts have been made over the years to assist in the development of new centers, build capacity in centers and teams already formed, and facilitate the sharing of resources between centers and teams in different counties. MDTs employ forensic interviewing protocols and best practices research to help them in their interviews.