Palomar Health's Child Advocacy Center

Originally established in 1984, the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) is accredited by the National Children’s Alliance. Palomar Health’s CAC is one of 48 such accredited programs in the state of California and one of only two in San Diego County. It mostly serves the North County area of San Diego. When police or child protective services believe a child may be experiencing abuse, the child is brought to the CAC—a safe, child-focused environment—by a caregiver or other “safe” adult. To understand what a CAC is, it’s important to understand what children face without one. Without a CAC, the child may end up having to tell the worst story of their life repeatedly, to doctors, law enforcement, lawyers, therapists, investigators, judges and others. At the CAC, the child tells their story once to a trained interviewer who knows the right questions to ask in a way that does not re-traumatize the child. Based on this interview, a team of professionals, including medical, law enforcement, mental health, prosecution, child protective services, victim advocacy and more, will work together to make decisions on how best to help the child. This is called the multidisciplinary team (MDT) response and is a core part of the work of CACs.

Palomar Health’s Child Advocacy Center provides services to children when there are concerns of possible abuse or neglect or when the child has witnessed a violent crime.

Services Include:

Forensic Interview: Interviews are conducted in a supportive and non-leading manner by professionals trained to obtain a statement from a child or developmentally disabled adult in a culturally sensitive, unbiased and fact-finding manner.

Forensic Exam: Forensic medical examinations are conducted by highly trained nurse examiners, supervised by specialized physicians, following a forensic interview when a child has disclosed sexual or severe physical abuse and/or the exam is deemed necessary. Exams are tailored to the statements made by the child in the interview and are used for evidence collection, testing and treatment.

Children also receive reassurance about their bodies and their health, and answers to any questions or concerns they may have. Medical exams are not invasive and should cause children no pain.

Child & Family Advocacy: Trained Case Coordinators work with children and their non-offending family members before, during and after their time at Palomar’s CAC. Case Coordinators can answer questions about the forensic interview, medical assessment and questions related to the investigative process.

Therapeutic Services: To foster healing for both children and their families, evidence-based treatments for mental health are often recommended. Our Case Coordinators provide families with information about mental health providers in the area and make referrals to our internal therapy services at the Trauma Recovery Center. For more information about these services, go to

Report Child Abuse:

If you suspect child abuse, call 1-800-344-6000.

If the child is in immediate danger, call 911.

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