The Forensic Interview is a vital part of the investigative process. A forensic interview is a structured conversation with a child intended to elicit detailed information about events that the child may have experienced or witnessed.
It takes place in a neutral, child-friendly location designed to help the child feel comfortable. A forensic interview provides the child with an opportunity to tell their story in their own words. It is not an interrogation, but rather a conversation tailored specifically to the child’s age, development level, and any special needs.
Purposes of an interview:
- To obtain information that will either corroborate or refute allegations or suspicions of abuse and neglect
- To obtain information from a child that may be useful in a legal proceeding
- To assess the safety of the child’s living arrangements
- To assess the need for medical treatment and psychological care
Our forensic interviews are conducted by masters-level, child abuse professionals who have received advanced training on the forensic interviewing of child victims/witnesses. The forensic interviewers routinely participate in peer review to continually develop their skills and attend ongoing professional training.
During the interview, investigative partners such as law enforcement and social services are able to watch a live feed of the interview in a separate observation room. This concept is a key element of the child advocacy center model of care that better ensures the child will not have to endure the trauma of multiple interviews by multiple agencies. Recordings of the interview can later be obtained to aid in court proceedings.
Medical Evaluations are conducted at the CAC of Aiken in a child-friendly examination room by a medical provider who specializes in child maltreatment. Any findings of abuse by our medical provider can be used as evidence in the investigation.
Beyond the physical component of the exam, our medical providers help assure parents that their child is healthy and that if abuse has occurred, it will not be visible to others. Our providers offer extensive, one-on-one consultation with the child’s caregivers that they would not normally receive during a regular doctor’s visit. They also take as much time as necessary to help each child by explaining each step of the check-up and finding ways to put the child at ease. Although there are very rarely physical signs of sexual abuse, many families find reassurance knowing that no permanent physical damage has been done.
Our Advocacy Program provides an on-going, supportive relationship to our children and their families. Our advocates stay connected to the family through the entire investigation process from beginning to end.
- Family Support & Crisis Intervention – Provides emotional support and guidance to families and/or caregivers dealing with abuse investigations.
- Resource Referral – Connects family and/or caregivers with community resources, partner organizations and mental health providers.
They are the first to greet our families when they arrive at our center and the last to see them when they leave.
Our center offers the trauma-informed therapy that is tailored to the unique needs and situations of children and adolescents who have suffered abuse and received forensic services at the center. Additionally, therapists work to support the recovery of family members and to improve their ability to assist the child.
CAC of Aiken offers several treatment options including Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), play therapy, and trauma-informed individual and group therapy. Trauma–informed therapy helps children and adolescents and their caregivers to manage feelings, talk about the trauma, and develop plans for feeling safe in the future.
Parents and guardians will be asked to participate in the majority of their child’s sessions in order to add to their child’s sense of support in the healing process as well as share and learn about their own emotional responses to the trauma.
All therapy sessions are offered at no cost to a child’s family.
Special Note: therapy is available to all present and former CAC clients.
All children deserve to be safe at home and in the community. Each of us has a responsibility to ensure that all children have safe, nurturing relationships and environments. Adults have a responsibility to learn how to recognize and respond when children and teens are at risk for abuse and/or neglect.
Our staff provides a wide range of professional training and other educational opportunities for interested groups on child sexual abuse recognition and prevention, mandated reporting, and the CAC of Aiken’s program services. If you work for a school, daycare, after-school program, church, or any organization serving children, let us help you train your staff and volunteers.
Read more about strategies for protecting children
Our staff provides a wide range of professional trainings to address sexual abuse, recognition, prevention, and mandated reporting. We are available to train volunteers and staff of schools, daycares, churches, after-school programs, or anyone interested in serving children.
Topics are varied and may include the following:
- CAC 101: Overview of the child advocacy center model and specific services provided by the CAC of Aiken.
- Child Abuse: Prevention, Recognition and Response – overview of child maltreatment, including identification, responding and reporting, as well as strategies for prevention.
- Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children® (SOC): Nationally recognized, evidence informed training proven to increase knowledge of child sexual abuse and change child protective behaviors using 5 simple steps. Continuing education contact hours available for social workers, childcare providers, counselors, teachers and nurses. Continuing Legal Education (CLE) contact hours may also be offered.
- Supplemental Modules by Darkness to Light: More in-depth information in four topic areas covered by Stewards of Children.
- Talking with Children about Safety from Sexual Abuse
- Healthy Touch for Children and Youth
- Bystanders Protecting Children from Boundary Violations and Sexual Abuse
- Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children
- Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse within Organizations: Policies and Practice – based on CDC recommendations for best practices for youth serving organizations.
- We can also provide consultation to individual faith and/or youth serving organizations to support efforts to develop or strengthen policies and practices to enhance child protection.
For more information, or to discuss other potential training opportunities, contact The Child Advocacy Center of Aiken at 803-644-5100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org