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History of the CAC

In 1985, Congressman Robert E. "Bud" Cramer (AL), who was then a District Attorney, organized an effort to create a better system to help abused children.

The social service and the criminal justice systems at the time were not working together in an effective manner that the children could trust. This common problem added to the children's emotional distress, and created a segmented, repetitious, and often frightening experience for the child victims.

The child advocacy center model developed through Congressman Cramer's vision pulls together law enforcement, criminal justice, child protective service, medical and mental health workers onto one coordinated team.

After developing its innovative team approach on the local level, the NCAC earned a national reputation and used it to train others to deal effectively with this critical problem.

Through its influence in training, communities across the country began to model their child abuse programs after the NCAC in Huntsville. In addition to training programs throughout the year, the NCAC hosts the National Symposium on Child Abuse in March of each year in Huntsville, Alabama.

There are now nearly 500 established and developing children's advocacy centers in the United States alone with growing interest internationally.

In 1996 a committee from the Interagency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect (ICAN), recognizing the need and benefit of a Child Advocacy Center in Mid-Missouri, began laying the ground work for a CAC.  The committee toured Child Advocacy centers that were already established in Missouri as well as ones from surrounding states.  This committee then developed protocols and procedures and obtained community support.  Letters of support were received from a variety of agencies and organizations including the Chamber of Commerce, Stephen’s College, City of Columbia/Boone County Health Department, United Way, City of Columbia Office of Community Services, Columbia Public Schools, Residential Treatment programs, Youth Services, Social Service Agencies, Mental Health programs, Boone County and Law Enforcement.

The Rainbow House was approached to manage the CAC by ICAN for several reasons.  First, the mission of Rainbow House to provide a safe and loving home for children and families in crisis was a perfect fit for the mission of the Child Advocacy Center to provide a safe and child friendly environment for children who are alleged victims of sexual abuse, severe physical abuse or who have witnessed homicide.  Secondly, Rainbow House is an established not-for-profit agency with strong community, public and fundraising support.

In December 1997 a facility was purchased to be used as the Rainbow House Regional Child Advocacy Center.  Members of ICAN toured the facility prior to purchase and believed the existing residential home met all the needs of the multi-disciplinary team.  Financial support was obtained from the local area United Way and the Stafford Family Charitable Trust to assist with the purchase and renovation of the house.  Local individuals donated their time and services and neighbors and the City Council supported a Child Advocacy Center in the community by granting a rezoning request for the house.

Rainbow House facility

In August 1998, with renovations completed, a Provider Open House was held.  Over 65 people from the investigative agencies attended this orientation and open house.  In late August, the Rainbow House Regional CAC began conducting forensic interviews. 

ICAN and the community continue to remain very involved with the CAC.  Today the Child Advocacy Center is located in the Rainbow House building on Towne Drive and provides forensic interviews to 380 to 400 children annually; provides counseling services at no cost for children; has office space for a medical provider who provides SAFE and Well Check exams; facilitates community education programs and support groups; and hosts team related meetings.

Our mission remains the same: to provide a safe and child friendly environment for children who are alleged victims of sexual abuse, severe physical abuse or who have witnessed homicide.