The Child Advocacy Center offers child abuse investigators a child-friendly setting for interviewing alleged victims of child abuse. Our child-friendly setting at Dunebrook is safe and comfortable not only for the victim but for the witnesses of the abuse and family members. We utilize a discreet monitoring and recording capabilities in order to support the victim and family. An on-staff forensic interviewer is available to conduct the child interviews as needed and requested by law enforcement and/or the Department of Child Services. The Family Advocate will also meet with the non-offending care giver to explain the interview process, give reassurance regarding the process, give referral and support the victim and the family throughout entire process.
- Families are referred for forensic interview services at Dunebrook’s CAC by the Department of Child Services and/or law enforcement. No self-referrals for forensic interview services are accepted.
- Once referred, the child and family will be respectfully and confidentially assisted in the interview process. Dunebrook interviewers are trained in a nationally recognized Child First protocol for interviewing children and preparing for court.
- All evidence gathered through the interview process is released to law enforcement according to protocols collaboratively developed by the Multi- Disciplinary Team.
- Community resource referral are available for all families served by Dunebrook’s Child Advocacy Center.
Additional Programs within the CAC:
- Body Safety Program: this is a prevention and education program presented in the schools to elementary and middle age children. This presentation empowers children to protect themselves, teaching them that they have the right to say “NO” to inappropriate touch. The program is a very powerful experience with lifelong positive self-esteem benefits.
If you are concerned that your child may have been abused there are several things that are beneficial to do:
- First, try to stay calm. It’s normal to be worried or angry but remember to stay calm for your child. Always remember that if anything did happen, it was not your child’s fault and it’s important the child doesn’t feel embarrassed or ashamed.
- It’s natural to want to find out if anything has happened to your child. If you are concerned, try to resist the urge to ask questions. The best course of action is to report your concerns to DCS/LEA and allow them to give you the next appropriate steps.
- If the child says anything that concerns you, report it to the Indiana Hotline- 1-800-800-5556- All cases need to be reported to this line.
- Once reported, the case will be assigned to investigators where the incident took place and they will contact you, usually within 24 hours.
- Meanwhile, give your child emotional support. Tell them that they aren’t to blame and that they are safe. Try not to dwell on the incident and ask questions about any incident so the child doesn’t worry. If the child wants to talk, listen and take note, but stay calm.
- The investigators who are in touch, usually from DCS and/or law enforcement, will let you know the next steps.
If you are scheduled for a CAC interview, here’s what to expect:
- The investigators will schedule a time and date with you to bring your child to the CAC.
- Try to schedule a time when the child’s alert and fed (not nap time or bedtime).
- At the CAC, let the front desk know you are there for an interview and your name. They will take you to the waiting area.
- Our family advocate will let you know what will happen, answer questions and give you some forms to sign.
- The child’s interviewer will introduce themselves to you and your child before taking them to the interview room.
- While the child is being interviewed, the family advocate will answer your questions. The interviews length can vary. For younger children they may last 20-30 minutes.
- The interviewer will bring the child back to you and then investigators will let you know what’s next and will answer questions.