CHILD ABUSE ASSESSMENT

Advocacy:

Our Family Advocacy Program provides on-going supportive relationships to our children and their families who are affected by abuse. Our family advocates guide and empowers the family through the entire investigation process from beginning to beyond. They assist in crisis invention, Crime Victims’ Compensation filing, court proceedings support and connecting to community resources.

 

Crisis Advocacy: At the CAC, we have specially trained Sexual Assault Response Advocates to provide emotional support and advocacy to sexual assault victims. Our Advocates provide crisis support in various settings, including the hospital and during law enforcement interviews.

 

Medical Advocacy: Provide companionship and oversight to children, assist the medical provider during medical exams, and strive to foster a calm accepting environment.

 

Forensic Interviews: Forensic interviews are conducted in a neutral, safe, and friendly environment and are focused on the best interest of the child. The goal of a forensic interview is to listen to a child’s (ages 4-17)  experience in a calm and comfortable environment and have any disclosure documented for use in assessing safety, criminal allegations, and for treatment needs. Forensic interviews are done one-on-one. According to the National Children’s Alliance forensic interview standard, “Forensic interviews are conducted in a manner that is legally sound, of a neutral, fact-finding nature, and are coordinated to avoid duplicative interviewing.” Forensic interviews are recorded, one-on-one interviews, observed only by investigating partners. It is critical to preserve the child’s statements for investigative purposes as these interviews may be used in court cases. For these reasons, the forensic interview must be conducted carefully to ensure it is legally defensible, and the process will generally take much longer than a field interview. 

 

Medical Exams: When concerns of child abuse are present, a child may receive a medical exam at the Children’s Advocacy Center. This exam is provided by a doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant with specialized training in child abuse exams.

 Medical exams are important for a number of reasons:

 

  • To document any physical evidence

  • To document the child’s statement to a doctor

  • To diagnose and treat any health problems related to the abuse including injuries or infections

  • To reassure the child and parent that the child’s body is safe and healthy

 

A medical exam begins with a one-on-one conversation with the child’s parent/guardian, in which the doctor collects information and answers questions before the exam. The doctor then meets with the child to conduct a head-to-toe physical examination, which may include photo documentation. 

 

This exam is very different from a standard visit to a primary care physician. The child's medical exam closely resembles a well-child exam, with the added use of a special light and camera to take a look at areas that may have been injured at the time of the abuse. The exam does not hurt-- we do not administer shots or blood samples during this exam.

 

 

What to Expect during the Forensic Interview Process

  • Every family that is referred to the CAC is assigned a Family Advocate who serves as their primary point of contact and support person as they navigate the multiple systems and agencies involved in protecting children. 

  • Once an appointment has been confirmed with law enforcement or child protective services, our Family Advocate will begin immediate case management. If there is time before the appointment, the Family Advocate will reach out to introduce themselves, complete a brief intake questionnaire and provide the opportunity for questions or concerns.

  • Our Family Advocate is the first to greet the family and children when they arrive at the Center. The Advocate will take the family and child on a tour of the center, offer the child activity and a snack while the next meeting takes place. 

  • The Caregiver will briefly meet with the Forensic Interviewer and community partners (law enforcement and child protection services) to complete the intake process. The Forensic Interviewer will introduce themselves to the child at the end of this meeting and accompany them to the Interview room. 

  • During the interview, the Advocate will meet with the caregivers to address concerns, answer questions, provide resources, and discuss any needed support moving forward. 

  • Once the interview is complete, the Forensic Interviewer and community partners will meet to give a verbal debrief with the caregiver. The Family Advocate continues to follow up in the months following the interview to provide updates about the investigation, ensure engagement in services, and support families on the path to healing.

 

CAC Model from National Children’s Alliance:

https://www.nationalchildrensalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NCA_CACmodel.pdf