Child Advocacy Center

Caring for children and family members affected by violence

Important Contacts


If you suspect child abuse or neglect or have reason to believe that abuse or neglect has occurred, you must make a report to the local office of child protective services or law enforcement as soon as possible. A child is any person under the age of 18 years old.

Child Advocacy Center

A nationally accredited children’s advocacy center serving Baltimore for over 30 years, Center for Hope’s Child Advocacy Center (formerly Baltimore Child Abuse Center) is one of the country’s top violence intervention and prevention agencies, aimed at caring for children and family members affected by violence. As the primary advocate for victims and point of contact for child-sensitive investigations and follow-up, the Child Advocacy Center eliminates the lengthy, repetitive, and often traumatic process that previously existed in Baltimore City. The Center’s activities focus on intervention when abuse is reported, treatment to aid in the healing of survivors and their families, education around recognizing, preventing and reporting suspicions of abuse, and advocacy at the local, state and national levels. The Child Advocacy Center’s comprehensive services in these areas address the immediate and long-term challenges child sexual abuse and adverse childhood experiences pose to the Baltimore region.


Center for Hope works with Baltimore City officials and medical personnel to develop a coordinated, child-friendly and time-sensitive response to child sexual abuse and physical maltreatment. Comprehensive 24-hour forensic interviews, medical treatment and mental health services combine to help children impacted by trauma feel safe and hopeful for the future. Caring staff members are available for families 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for sensitive interviews and medical care, with bi-lingual staff available. Each family also is paired with an advocate, who arranges medical care, mental health services, court support and even home visits beyond traditional service hours, providing material needs, like groceries, transportation and emergency housing.


Adverse childhood experiences include experiencing violence or abuse or observing such events at home or in the community. Witnessing abuse or homicide, being separated from family members due to incarceration, and living with family members with severe mental health issues can lead to future victimization and negative health outcomes. Working to care for and support impacted children, the Child Advocacy Center aims to remove them and their families from the continuity of violence and abuse, help them find justice, and provide the tools to guide them toward a future of healing, of safety, of hope.


What Happens at the Child Advocacy Center?


Center for Hope’s Child Advocacy Center provides a multidisciplinary approach to helping families through every step of the investigative process. The coordination of Baltimore City Police, Child Protective Services, Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, and our own interview and treatment staff ensures that families receive proper support to help them cope with the trauma of abuse. We provide all of our services at no cost to the families we serve and are a resource whenever needed.


Forensic Interviews


When suspected child sexual abuse is reported, a Police Officer, Detective and/or Child Protective Services worker are dispatched to where the child is located. They ensure that the child is out of harm’s way and collect minimal facts. The child and caregiver are transported to Center for Hope’s Child Advocacy Center if a child is reported to be a possible victim or witness to a crime. Center for Hope works to provide an environment where children and their families feel safe and comfortable during this process. The child and family are assisted by a team of professionals who may include a Forensic Interviewer.


The Interviewer talks with the child about their reported experiences. Forensic Interviewers have specialized training in how to talk with children. The forensic interview is conducted one-on-one in a neutral and developmentally appropriate manner that is sensitive to the needs of the child. The interview allows the child to explain what happened in their own words. Members of the multidisciplinary team view the interview from an adjoining room via closed-circuit television. Siblings and other children in the household may be interviewed separately as well.


Following the forensic interview, the Interviewer and team members meet with the caregiver to gain their perspective on the report and basic information about the family. The team also answers any questions or concerns about the child or the case. Additionally, a family advocate may be present during this part of the interview to get to know the family and ensure that the family has a resource for concerns or treatment after the interview.


Medical Examinations


The pediatrician at Center for Hope’s Child Advocacy Center specializes in pediatrics, child maltreatment and preventive medicine. She examines children for signs of sexual abuse and also observes the child for other untreated medical conditions. Teenagers who indicate that they are sexually active are provided with information about safe sex practices and birth control, when appropriate. Medicals exams are provided at no charge to families.




The Child Abuse Medical Professionals (CHAMP) network consists of physicians and nurses who are expert in the field of child maltreatment and who serve as a resource to medical professionals, child advocacy centers (CACs), and MDT partners, evaluate suspected abuse and neglect in children, and provide consultation and training to community professionals.

Treatment and Counseling Services


Following the forensic interview and medical exam, the team decides with the family on a safety plan for the child and their family members, as well as follow-up treatment recommendations. The Family Advocate is there to facilitate this process. Most families are referred for counseling at one of Center for Hope’s treatment partners. The Family Advocate remains in contact with families to help ensure that they are receiving the services recommended. In some cases, children are too shy or frightened to talk about abuse. When this happens, the forensic interviewer may suggest that the child immediately be enrolled in a counseling program geared toward helping abused children. Alternately, children may be invited back to Center for Hope to participate in an Extended Forensic Assessment which gives them an opportunity to become more comfortable telling their stories over a longer period of time. During the investigative process, it is not unusual for a parent or caregiver to reveal that they too were sexually abused as a child. Many victims never received counseling or support they needed to help them deal with and confront the abuse. Center for Hope’s Family Advocacy Program works closely with organizations that serve survivors of child sexual abuse and strongly encourages parents and caregivers to utilize these resources for ongoing support. Family Advocates continuously works on creating new supportive services such as caregiver support groups in English and Spanish and Be HER’d – a support group for preteen girls. The Family Advocacy Program also helped establish Center for Hope’s Community Resource Closet for families in need of clothing, shoes, hygiene items, and nonperishable food items.