Forensic services are provided to children who may have experienced abuse or who have witnessed a crime or other violent act. The primary aim of forensic services is to aid in ensuring the safety of the individual child as well as other children in the community. Forensic services are provided in a safe and child-friendly environment.
A forensic interview is a single session, recorded interview designed to elicit a child’s unique information when there are concerns of possible abuse or when the child has witnessed violence against another person. The forensic interview is conducted in a supportive and non-leading manner by a professional trained in the NCAC Forensic Interview model. Interviews are remotely observed by representatives of the agencies involved in the investigation (such as law enforcement and child protective services).
Extended Forensic Interview
An extended forensic interview is a multi-session interview conducted by professionals trained in the NCAC Extended Forensic Interview model. Extended forensic interviews are conducted with children currently involved in a criminal or child protection investigation who may experience difficulty relaying their information during a single interview session.
The MDT consists of social workers, police officers, assistant district attorneys, advocates, nurses, and a child interview specialist. All of these professionals are sensitive to the difficult and confusing time that you and your child may be experiencing. The social worker must assess the safety and protection of your child. The interview specialist will ask your child questions and be part of the team discussion following the interview. A nurse will address any medical concerns, and a medical exam is available to every child. The police officer is from the location where the alleged incident occurred, and along with the assistant district attorney will determine if a crime has been committed and what other investigative steps must be taken. The victim advocate will be your link to the court system, if and when criminal action is taken. The MDTâ€™s overall goal is to complete the investigation in a child friendly, timely and professional manner.
Children seem to be put at ease by knowing what to expect. It is helpful to inform your child that someone wishes to talk with him or her about what was reported. It is important to reassure your child and give him or her permission to talk freely; however it is equally important not to rehearse with your child or tell your child what to say.
At the end of the interview, the DHR investigator and law enforcement will inform you about what will happen next. Unless told otherwise, you and your child are free to leave after talking with the investigators. The team will meet and develop a plan. An advocate or the DHR investigator may contact you at a later date with more detailed information.
If your child receives a medical examination, explain that this is to make sure that his or her body is healthy. Assure your child that this exam will not hurt and that the medical examiner will tell your child everything that she will be doing prior to the exam. If a medical is not requested by the MDT, you may request a medical exam by contacting the family advocate.
The Madison County Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) is a collaborative effort between the District Attorney’s Office, Law Enforcement, and the Department of Human Resources (DHR) to coordinate services for you and your family while your child’s allegation of abuse is under investigation. In order to ensure the safety and protection of children, the law requires that reports of possible abuse of a child be investigated by DHR. In cases where a crime may have occurred, law enforcement must be notified. The MDT’s primary goal is to reduce the number of times your child will need to talk with different professionals. The MDT is designed to respond to your questions quickly and sensitively during the investigation.
It is important for the interviewer to talk with your child alone. If something abusive has happened to your child, it might initially be difficult for your child to talk about this in front of you. If your child discloses abusive incidents it might be upsetting to you. The team members have the responsibility of observing, assessing and investigating the allegations. The team’s focus must be on your child. Therefore you are not permitted to observe the interview.
You are encouraged to bring a friend or support person. The family advocate will provide support while the interview is taking place. It is understandable that waiting for your child may be difficult.
You will receive a follow up call from the family advocate to assess your needs and discuss available services.
Abused children often do not feel as good about themselves as non-victimized children. Your child may also feel frustration, anger, guilt, fear and helplessness. Parents and other family members also need support and understanding. Remember that bad things happen to good people. Professional, evidence-based counseling can help you and your child through this stressful time. If you are interested in receiving counseling, please contact the family advocate for a referral.