The Children's Advocacy Center of Cherokee County
The CAC assists Law Enforcement and the Department of Human Resources (DHR) by conducting specialized and unique investigative interviews of children who are suspected to be victims of abuse. The goal of a forensic interview is to gather pertinent information from children in a neutral, non-leading, developmentally sensitive, and legally defensible manner.
The interview takes place in a comfortable space within our center, and is conducted with compassion, and sensitivity by a member of the CAC's forensic interview personnel. At our center, we are fortunate to have two interview rooms. We have one interview room for younger children and one for older children/teenagers. Our forensic interviewers receive specialized training on an ongoing basis and are subject to a structured peer review process.
Information obtained from the forensic interview is shared with the investigative members of the case. This collaborative effort limits the number of interviews that the child must endure and ensures that all members of the investigative team receive the same information for their work on the investigation.
The CAC provides a safe place for children and their families to begin the healing process after experiencing criminal child abuse or witnessing a violent crime. The CAC employs therapists to provide evidence-based, trauma-informed therapy. Because the trauma of abuse affects the whole family, our services are provided at no cost to each child and their non-offending family members.
The CAC’s team works with each family to determine the best treatment options through standardized assessment procedures and collaboration.
When a child is suspected of being abused, the non-offending caregivers are thrown into crisis mode. Once a child is referred to the CAC, they are provided with a family advocate to help the non-offending caregivers manage that crisis.
The Family Advocate provides support, assistance and advocacy through every step of the child's case, from the moment he or she enters our center until the family no longer needs our help.
With child victims and witnesses, it is very important to follow a specific protocol and use forensically-sensitive questions when gathering information. Your child will speak one-on-one with a trained Forensic Interviewer. Our Forensic Interviewers are Master’s level counselors who talk to children using a nationally recognized protocol. The interviews are observed via closed-circuit TV by the team of investigators involved in the case.
Give your child permission to talk about what they have disclosed. Tell your child that they will be meeting with someone who is a specialist in talking to children. You can select a word that will best relate to your child, i.e. a counselor, an interviewer, a helper, etc. Encourage them to answer all the questions the best they can and to tell the truth. Be general in what you tell the child about what happened to you (i.e, “It’s okay to tell the interviewer what you told me (or whomever they told). Do not repeat the details of what they have disclosed and don’t ask them additional questions- let the professionals do all the asking. It is important for your child to tell the forensic interviewer what happened even though they may have already told you or someone else.
No, only people who are designated as part of the Multi-Disciplinary Team are permitted to observe forensic interviews while they are being conducted. Also if children believe their parents are watching or may watch at a later time, the accuracy and completeness of their disclosure may be compromised.
Give your child enough notice that they don’t feel surprised but also don’t create too much time and space for them to be worried or anxious. Usually, a day or two is enough time for them to feel comfortable with this appointment.
Tell your child that you might not know what questions to ask and how to ask them. Sometimes parents ask the kinds of questions that are about feelings instead of the facts, which is why this special interviewer needs to do the asking. Assure them that they are not in trouble with you or with the person with whom they will be talking.
Cherokee County Children's Advocacy Center
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