What should I do if I suspect child abuse?
If you suspect or know that a child is being abused, call the Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE (962-2873). Calls are confidential. Or you can report the incident online at www.dcf.state.fl.us/abuse/report.
Which counties does CAC serve?
We serve the residents of Lee, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties.
Where is CAC located and what are your hours?
We are located at 3830 Evans Ave. in Ft. Myers. We are within walking distance of LeeTran bus stops. Ample parking is also available. Office hours are Mon-Fri 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, but our Child Protection Team and Medical Staff are on-call 24/7. CAC is not an overnight shelter.
Is there a fee for services?
All services are free of charge.
What happens at the Children's Advocacy Center?
CAC is a child-friendly place where children meet with specially trained staff about issues of child abuse and neglect. If your child is to be interviewed, it will take place in a private, child-friendly room specifically designed for interviewing children.
What do I tell my child about the interview?
You might tell your child, “You and I are going to the Children’s Advocacy Center. It is a special place where kids go to talk. There will be a person there who talks to lots of kids about what happens to them and that person will be talking to you too.” You might also consider telling your child, “That person will need to know everything that you remember so we can make sure you are safe and okay.” It is important to let your child know that they are not in any trouble.
Who will my child talk to?
Your child will meet with a member of the Child Protection Team who has received specialized training in talking to children about difficult subjects. The interviewer’s goal is to make your child as comfortable as possible while gathering the necessary information for an investigation. Questions are asked in a non-threatening and non-leading manner. The interviewer moves at a pace that is comfortable for your child and never forces a child to talk.
Can I watch the interview?
Only those parties who are directly involved with the investigation of the allegations are allowed to observe the child’s interview with CAC.
Will my child need a medical exam?
The case coordinator will decide if your child needs a medical exam. If one is needed, one of our medical practitioners will examine your child. You might tell your child, “We are going to see a nurse who takes care of kids. She is not going to hurt you. She just needs to make sure your body is okay.”
What happens after the interview?
You will be asked to talk to a member of the Child Protection Team both before and briefly after the interview. You will have the opportunity to ask questions and voice your concerns.
Should I get counseling for my child?
Yes. Children may be uncomfortable discussing the abuse with their parents because they feel ashamed or guilty. Should negative emotions or reactions to the abuse remain untreated, or if the child cannot properly express discomfort, he or she will experience greater suffering and trauma.