Talbot Community Connections supports the Talbot County Children’s Advocacy Center (TCCAC) to provide a comprehensive multidisciplinary response to incidents of child abuse in Talbot County.

Led by the Talbot County Department of Social Services, in partnership with the University of Maryland Shore Health, the Center provides a comfortable, private, child-friendly setting that is both physically and psychologically safe for diverse populations of children and their families. TCCAC ensures “best practice” standards of service and is accredited by the National Children’s Alliance.

Prior to the opening of Talbot County Children’s Advocacy Center in 2003, victimized

children often had to tell their stories of abuse over and over again to doctors, law

enforcement, lawyers, therapists, investigators, judges, and others.  Children had to

talk about the traumatic experience in a police station where they may have thought

they were in trouble. Often, child victims were asked the wrong questions by a well-meaning

teacher or another adult, which may have jeopardized legal aspects of the case against the

abuser.  In addition, since many services necessary to support child sexual abuse victims

were not available in the Mid-Shore region, families had to travel to receive some services.  

Since the establishment of our Child Advocacy Center in 2003, when a child is suspected

of being abused, the child is brought by a “safe adult” to the Talbot County Children’s

Advocacy Center; a safe, child-focused, trauma-informed environment. At the CAC,

the child tells their story only once to a trained interviewer who knows the right questions to

ask in a way that is child friendly and legally sound.  Then, a multidisciplinary team that

includes medical professionals, law enforcement, a prosecutor, a mental health consultant,

child protective services, and a victim and family advocate make decisions together about

how to help the child based on the interview. This multidisciplinary team (MDT) response is the core part of the work that our CAC provides.

A coordinated MDT approach facilitates efficient interagency communication and information sharing, ongoing involvement of key individuals, and support for children and families. Each agency gains the benefit of a broadened knowledge base from which decisions are made, thorough and shared information, and improved and timely evidence gathering. Involvement of the prosecutor from the beginning stages of the case may also contribute to a more successful criminal justice outcome. MDT interventions in a neutral, child-focused CAC setting are associated with less anxiety, fewer interviews, and more appropriate and timely referrals for needed services. An MDT response fosters needed education, support, and treatment for children and families that may enhance their willingness to participate in the criminal justice system as effective witnesses. In addition, parents and other caregivers are empowered to protect and support their children throughout the investigation, prosecution, and beyond.

MDT partners are committed to ensuring child safety, reducing potential risks, and addressing trauma to child victims. They are routinely engaged in educational opportunities to expand professional and community awareness and improve services to child victims and their families.