Preparing for your first visit
We recognize that this is a stressful time for you, and that you may have many questions. Below you can find answers to some common questions in preparation for your first visit to our Child Advocacy Center. If you have any particular concerns, please feel free to give us a call at anytime.
What happens at the Child Advocacy Center?
The Child Advocacy Center (CAC) is a safe, child-friendly location for children to speak with trained interviewers or see one of our medical providers. This can be an emotional and stressful time for you and your family. When you come to the CAC, you will be able to meet professionals working on your child’s case and ask them further questions.
Your child(ren) can play with our stuffed animals, see the room where they will be interviewed, and meet Homer, our loving facility dog. You and your child(ren) can ask your case manager absolutely anything.
If you have questions and need answers at any time, please call to talk to your assigned case manager. Our aim to make this process as worry-free and reassuring as possible.
What do I tell my child about coming to the Child Advocacy Center?
You might tell your child:
“We are going to the Child Advocacy Center to meet [name of assigned interviewer]. It is a safe place where kids go to talk about important stuff, and [name of assigned interviewer] is going to help you. S/he will ask you some questions; s/he talks to lots of kids about what happened to them. It’s okay to tell them everything. You are not in any trouble.”
Who will my child talk to?
Your child will be talking to one of our trained forensic interviewers. The interview is conducted in a child-sensitive, non-suggestive and developmentally appropriate manner to allow your child to talk about their experiences. A multi-disciplinary team will watch the interview in another room. This team includes the investigators who will explore the allegations. All team members will be present so that your child will ideally be interviewed one time.
Your child's best interest will be the interviewer's primary concern.
Will I be able to sit in on my child's interview?
No. In order to provide a neutral setting for your child to talk about their experiences, and to reduce any possible sources of influence or stress on your child, all interviews are conducted without parents in the room.
Most of us working at the CAC are parents just like you. We understand you wish to be in the room to support your child through this stressful experience. However, it is equally difficult for us to sit quietly and refrain from answering for our children when they are slow to respond, looking concerned, or having an emotional reaction to what they say. Our mere presence in the same room will influence our child(ren) and can affect what they share with the interviewer.
Will I be able to watch my child's interview?
Unfortunately, no. Only professionals directly involved in the investigation are allowed to observe the interview. All of the interviews are recorded to minimize the number of times your child will have to talk about what happened. The DVD recording of the interview is turned over to law enforcement as part of evidence in a potential criminal case. A copy of the DVD cannot be released or provided to anyone without a court order.
What will I do while my child is being interviewed?
You will meet with your child’s assigned case manager. They will answer any and all questions you have, or find out the answers if they don’t know immediately. They will listen to your worries and concerns and provide resources and referrals as appropriate to help you through this difficult time. Our CAC staff is available to you throughout the investigation to provide information, referrals, and above all, unwavering support.
What happens after the interview?
You will be able to talk to members of the investigation team. They will tell you in general terms what they learned from the interview. You will have an opportunity to ask questions and voice your concerns.
Your child’s interview is just the first step in the investigative process. There may be other witnesses that need to be interviewed. There may be physical evidence that needs to be photographed or collected. The alleged offender may also be interviewed. It is difficult to predict what may happen and how a case may proceed. It is too early to tell if your child will need to testify in court, for example.
All of the information will be turned over to the county attorney who will decide whether or not to prosecute. Your advocate and case manager will keep in regular contact to let you know what is happening on the case. If you have questions at any point during the investigation or prosecution of your child’s case, please feel free to contact the CAC.
Will my child need a medical exam?
It depends. Regardless of whether a medical evaluation is needed for the investigation, many children gain a sense of relief from knowing their bodies are okay. If you think that a physical examination would be reassuring to your child(ren), please let us know. A medical exam is often no different from a child’s school physical exam; it does not hurt in any way.
Will my child need counseling?
It depends. Children respond very differently, and some may find professional counseling helpful, while others may not need it. Some children might benefit from counseling in the future. The important thing is for your child(ren) feel that they are believed, and that they are protected from continued abuse. Talking about and processing their experience is more helpful than simply “forgetting about it” and “moving on” as if everything were normal.
If you think that you or your child(ren) would benefit from counseling to better cope with what has happened on your path to healing, please let us know. We are more than happy to provide you with referral information and support you through this difficult time.