Your Visit to the CAC - What to Expect
Before the Interview:
A day or two before the interview, talk to your child about what he or she will be doing at the CAC. Ideally, you want to give your child a little time before your visit to lessen concern and avoid surprise. To make things a little easier, the following is what we recommend.
REASSURE YOUR CHILD THAT IT IS OKAY TO TALK
You can help us promote open communication by telling your child that it is all right to answer the Interviewer’s questions. Saying things like, “It’s okay to tell the Interviewer what you told me,” and “Being honest about what happened is very important” can go a long way.
INTRODUCE THE ROLE OF OUR FORENSIC INTERVIEWER
Tell your child that he or she will be a meeting with someone whose job it is to talk to children who have experienced similar situations. This person is called a Forensic Interviewer and can be trusted with very personal and difficult things. Let your child know that the Forensic Interviewer is a safe adult and their job is to help keep kids safe.
On Interview Day:
The day of your child’s forensic interview can be challenging, but our staff at the CAC aim to make it less so. Below you’ll find a list of Frequently Asked Questions to help give you and your child a clearer understanding of what to expect on Interview Day.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE ARRIVE?
Upon your arrival, you will enter one of our child-friendly waiting rooms and be greeted by your Family Advocate or another of our staff. Your waiting room has a TV, sanitized toys, and books. Your Family Advocate will give you some paperwork to fill out and answer any questions you may have.
Once the investigating agencies have arrived, the Forensic Interviewer will come introduce themselves and give you and your child a tour of the interview room. When it’s time for the interview, the Interviewer will bring only your child to the interview room. When the interview is over, the Interviewer will escort your child back to you.
*Please note, we ask that you only bring the child or children your appointment was made for. However, we understand if this is not possible. If other children are with you, they must be supervised by you at all times.
WHO WILL I SPEAK TO ABOUT MY CHILD’S CASE?
While your child is being interviewed, your Family Advocate will take a moment to speak with you in greater detail about your case. Our Family Advocates work with parents and caregivers to assess needs, provide support and various services, including referrals for specialized medical exams and counseling.
WHO WILL SPEAK TO MY CHILD?
On the day of the interview, your child will meet with a Forensic Interviewer who is specially trained. The role of an Interviewer is to speak to your child in a friendly, age-appropriate, and objective manner that encourages open and honest discussion. Your child’s safety and well-being are always our priorities. This is why we have other professionals observe the interview from a closed-circuit TV in another room.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING AN INTERVIEW?
Our goal is to make this process as child-friendly as possible. The Interviewer and your child will start out with some rapport-building to get comfortable talking with each other. Next, the Interviewer will only ask non-leading, open-ended questions related to what brought him or her to the CAC today. These types of questions allow your child to tell what has happened in his or her own words.
CAN I WATCH MY CHILD’S INTERVIEW?
We understand you wanting to be there for your child throughout this entire process. In order to protect its integrity, only our staff and MDT partners who are directly involved in the investigation are allowed to view the interview. However, once the interview is over, you have the chance to meet with everyone involved and voice any questions or concerns you may have.
HOW LONG DOES THE INTERVIEW LAST?
Because all children are so different and each case is handled with that in mind, there is no standard duration for an interview. Typically, a family with only one child being interviewed can expect to be at the CAC for 1-2 hours.
*Note that duration is dependent on a number of things. We will always prioritize child safety whether that takes 52 minutes or 4 hours.
WHO IS A PART OF THE MULTIDISCIPLINARY TEAM?
Our team includes professionals from the Division of Family & Children Services, the District Attorney’s Office, and law enforcement officers. It also includes mental health therapists, forensic interviewers, family advocates, local school system employees, and medical professionals. Together, this team of professionals supports the goal of reducing the number of interviews—and the number of times children must retell their stories—as part of the investigative process.
After the Interview:
Once the interview is completed, the Interviewer will bring your child back to the waiting room. The team will meet to discuss follow-up suggestions. After that, you will have an opportunity to meet with the team to ask any questions and discuss next steps.
THE ROLE OF THE FAMILY ADVOCATE
After your visit to the CAC, the same Family Advocate who spoke with you during your child’s interview will follow up with you the following week. Generally, a Family Advocate stays involved with your case for as long as needed, checking in and being available to your family for any needs that may arise following your child’s interview.