What is the Child and Family Advocacy Center?
The Child and Family Advocacy Center is a resource to families and to the Multi-Disciplinary Team members who investigate and intervene in child abuse cases in Elkhart County. The advocacy center provides kid-friendly, forensic (fact-finding) interviews and assessments for children, advocacy and support for family members, and other programs focused on assisting the child victims and their families.
What is a forensic interview?
A forensic interview is a fact-finding, objective interview designed to reduce possible trauma to the child while enabling them to talk about their experience.
Why is a forensic interview done?
A forensic interview is conducted at the request of team members when there is reason to believe that a child may have been abused or witnessed a traumatic event.
The advocacy center interviewing process reduces the number of interviews and interviewers to which a child is subjected, and enhances the chances of obtaining evidence for prosecution.
What happens with the child during the interview?
Children are interviewed at the center in a room that is decorated in a neutral, non-threatening manner. The Multidisciplinary team includes area law enforcement detectives, Department of Child Services Assessment Case Managers, forensic interviewers, and a family advocate. Prior to interviewing a child, the professionals share relevant information. A professional interviewer then interviews the child as it is recorded using techniques that are objective, non-leading and helpful in building evidence for prosecution.
What happens after the interview?
The interview at the Child and Family Advocacy Center is only one step in the investigative process. The CFAC staff and team members attempt to create an environment that is child-friendly and allows the best setting for a child to talk about abuse events. If this does not occur at the time of the interview, the child may be referred for counseling or other services that will allow disclosure as the child is comfortable talking. Team members may ask the child to be brought back to CFAC if information arises regarding the abuse situation that was unknown at first or if other abuse situations are brought to light.
How are non-offending family members supported?
The family members meet with the family advocate while the child is being interviewed. Family members receive systemic information, referral service and support during this time. The family advocate is available to family members as needed after the interview.
Who does the advocacy center collaborate with?
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The advocacy center also offers:
Community Education - The Child and Family Advocacy Center staff provides presentations and in-service training on child abuse issues to local groups, but are not limited to advocacy center and system information. Topics include child abuse indicators and reporting procedures and body safety trainings.