History of NCA
The history of National Children’s Alliance begins with the formation of the country’s first Children’s Advocacy Center. In 1985 in Huntsville, Alabama, former Congressman Robert E. “Bud” Cramer (AL), who was then a district attorney, organized an effort to create a better system to help abused children.
National Children’s Alliance and the criminal justice system
The social service and the criminal justice systems at the time were not working together in an effective manner that children could trust. This common problem added to the children’s emotional distress and created a segmented, repetitious, and often frightening experience for child victims.
The Children’s Advocacy Center model developed through former Congressman Cramer’s vision pulls together law enforcement, criminal justice, child protective service, medical, and mental health workers onto one coordinated team.
Growth of the National Children’s Alliance
The idea caught on in other communities and began to spread throughout the country. As the Children’s Advocacy Center movement grew, representatives from these programs began to meet informally. In 1988, they formed the National Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers. In the beginning, the Network was quite informal and existed primarily to provide some direction and training for the field of emerging programs.
From that beginning, the organization formed a board of directors and in 1990 was formally incorporated. The first by-laws of the organization prescribed the essential components of a Children’s Advocacy Center and set forth a mechanism for future growth of the Network into a national membership organization.
In 1993, the Network received an initial operations grant from the Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, to be used to build the organization’s infrastructure. In 1994, these initial activities were increased to allow for grants to programs across the country, and in 1998, in an effort to reflect the national composition and focus of the organization, the Network became National Children’s Alliance.
The National Children’s Alliance today
From an informal gathering of colleagues to an organization of accredited centers some 900 strong, National Children’s Alliance is now the national leader on training, technical assistance, research, support and education for Children’s Advocacy Centers and for child abuse professionals and communities seeking to enhance and improve the response system for intervention, investigation, treatment, and management of cases involving child abuse.