Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez has announced that a Child Advocacy Development Capital Grant in the amount of $551,975 has recently been awarded to the Office of the Hudson County Prosecutor by the State of New Jersey Department of Children and Families. The grant for the Prosecutor-based Child Advocacy Center was awarded on December 20, 2018, and accepted by the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders by way of resolution on January 24, 2019.

A CAC is a child-focused, facility-based program that provides a safe, secure and healing environment for the victims of child abuse and neglect, while also providing programs that focus on the prevention of abuse and neglect. This is achieved by the coordinated efforts of a Multi- disciplinary Team composed of individuals from child protection, law enforcement, prosecution, healthcare and mental health agencies. The team works together to conduct interviews and make team decisions on cases of child abuse and neglect. This approach is intended to minimize any additional trauma to the child and non-offending caregivers, while also holding offenders accountable through the court system and ensuring procedural fairness.

The grant funds will be utilized to move toward establishing a fully accredited CAC. The new CAC will be entirely housed in a separate, secure and child-friendly location where Hudson County’s Multi-disciplinary Team will be able to properly respond to allegations of child abuse and provide additional centrally-located services.

“Hudson County residents need and deserve a fully accredited Child Advocacy Center and the funding from this grant will now be utilized to construct and outfit Hudson County’s new CAC in Secaucus,” said Prosecutor Suarez. “We are excited to be able to move our plans forward to provide a nurturing environment for abused or neglected children and their families.”

“On behalf of the members of the staff who have worked tirelessly on this project, I’d like to thank the Freeholders for their wisdom in understanding the need and importance for this type of facility. I would also like to express how grateful our entire Office is to receive these funds from the Department of Children and Families,” added Prosecutor Suarez.

In 2017 the Hudson County Prosecutor-based CAC and Victim Witness Unit engaged 296 children. Of those children, 150 cases were investigated by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit as child abuse cases. The investigations include cases with multiple children that are counted as a single investigation.

According to the National Children’s Alliance there are currently more than 880 CACs located across the United States. In 2015, an estimated 1,670 children died from abuse and neglect in the United States. During that year, CACs around the country served nearly 311,000 child victims of abuse, providing victim advocacy and support to these children and their families. In 2014, this number was more than 315,000.