Children, and non-offending caregivers, may need support and services during all or parts of the abuse investigation process.
Through on-site staffing and partnerships with Safe Harbors of the Finger Lakes, the Crime Victim Specialist of the New York State Police, and the Victim Witness Coordination Program of the Ontario District Attorney’s Office, we can provide crisis support and ongoing support to children and their non-offending caregivers.
Trained advocates will work with your family to help you to understand the process and to assist you with obtaining the necessary services and support to help your child and family.
Child Forensic Interviews
We provide a child-friendly environment where trained professionals can perform forensic interviews. (These neutral, fact-finding interviews would otherwise be conducted in an uncomfortable setting.)
By providing age-appropriate rooms for forensic interviews to investigate allegations of child abuse, we can help minimize additional trauma to children.
You can tell your child that they are going to the Child Advocacy Center. You could say, “This is a place where kids can talk with adults about what happened to them. The adults at the Child Advocacy Center talk with lots of kids about what happens to them. The adults want to make sure that kids are safe. You can tell them the truth.”
If your child wants to talk about what happened before the interview, the best thing you can do is listen and be supportive.
Do not question your child before the interview.
When you and your child arrive, you will be greeted by a staff person at the CACFL and shown to the waiting room. The waiting room has lots of activities for children including books, games, coloring materials, and DVDs. You may meet the investigative team of professionals who are working on your child’s case: this may include child protective services, law enforcement, prosecution, and others. If you brought other children with you, you and the other children will stay in the waiting room during the forensic interview.
The Child Advocacy Center of the Finger Lakes provides separate interview rooms designed to make children of all ages feel comfortable. Depending on their age, they will be interviewed in the Child or Teen room.
The interview room has a closed-circuit camera so that the investigative team can observe the interview but the interview is not recorded.
Your child will talk with a Forensic Interviewer; a professional who has been specially trained in talking with children about allegations of abuse. The interviewer will help your child to be as comfortable as possible; she or he will ask your child questions that are not leading or threatening. The interview will move at the pace that your child would like and your child can take breaks when they need to. The interviewer never forces the child to talk.
No, only the professionals who are working on the investigation may observe the interview or be in the interview room. This is done to ensure a neutral setting for your child and the investigation and to reduce any stress your child might feel. You will have an opportunity to speak with the investigative team before and after the interview.
If your child wants to talk about what happened in the interview, the best thing you can do is listen and be supportive.
Do not question your child about the interview.
Assure your child they were very brave for talking and tell them you love them and support them, no matter what.
To the extent they are able, the investigation team will tell you in general terms about the results of the interview and the current status of the investigation.
Referral to Counseling
It is very common for counseling to be recommended for children when they may have been sexually or physically abused.
Counseling can be offered in many formats to fit a child’s needs and is beneficial because it can enhance the process of healing.
The benefits of providing therapy for traumatized children include:
- Creating a safe place for trauma processing
- Augmenting the child’s adaptive coping strategies and soothing his or her physiology
- Ensuring that caregivers are facilitative partners in treatment
- Inviting gradual exposure to trauma content through play
- Creating developmentally sensitive trauma narratives
- Using termination to make positive meaning of the post-trauma self
Counseling may also be helpful for non-offending caregivers, parents, or other siblings in the household.
The Child Advocacy Center of the Finger Lakes has partnered with several mental health providers who have specialized training on how to provide therapeutic counseling for children who might have been sexually or physically abused.
Additionally, the Child Advocacy Center of the Finger Lakes can provide resources to children and families for other trauma-related services in the area.