Forensic Interview and Advocacy

Have Questions about an Upcoming Appointment?

 

 

Sunflower House, A Child Abuse Prevention Center, is a place for children to be interviewed after a report of child abuse has been made. We work with the police and child protective service social workers to talk with children in our safe and child-centered location.

Our goals:

Do the best we can to find out what happened.
Make the investigation process as comfortable as possible for both you and your child.
Explain the child protection and legal systems.
Assist with scheduling your child for a thorough, specialized medical evaluation.

 

Children are referred to Sunflower House when allegations of sexual or physical abuse have been made. Our specially trained, forensic interviewers interview children in rooms that are wired to electronically record the child’s statement. Often the recorded interview is used in further investigation or for prosecution in a court of law. Referrals are accepted from law enforcement agencies or the Department for Children and Families (DCF).

Many times children need a comprehensive medical evaluation. Sunflower House staff will assist families in scheduling these exams with pediatricians specifically trained in child sexual and physical abuse.

After forensic interviews, children are surprised with the opportunity to choose a stuffed animal, book or toy from our Bear Showcase. Each is donated to Sunflower House by community members and supporters. Please visit our wish list if you’d like to donate an item.

Free informational booklet

Caring for Kids, What Parents Need to Know About Sexual Abuse

Download Booklet >>

Before The Interview

Please write down and bring with you any concerns you have about your child. You know your child best and your information is important to us. Before your appointment at Sunflower House, please do not discuss the abuse allegations with your child. If your child wants to talk, permit him or her to discuss it. At this time, however, it is best if you do not bring it up yourself. Tell them that you honestly don’t know exactly what will be asked but that you have every confidence in them that they’ll be honest and that the person will make them feel comfortable during the talk. Assure them that this person is child-friendly and that it’s their job to talk to kids about difficult things. Tell them you want him/her to answer all the questions the best they can and to tell the truth.

Give the child permission to talk about what they have disclosed. Be general in what you tell the child (i.e. “It’s ok to tell the interviewer what you told me (or whomever they told) happened to you when you were …). Assure them that they are not in any trouble.

Assure your child that you will be nearby during the interview. Let your child know it is alright to talk to the people at Sunflower House and that other kids come to Sunflower House to talk and have medical exams too.

The Interview

Sunflower House is a safe place where your child will meet with a social worker who has experience talking with many children and teenagers. Our “house” is a child-centered place with toys, books, play tables, an aquarium and TV room. Before the interview, the team members (DCF, law enforcement, forensic interviewer, family advocate and medical staff) will meet briefly. The family advocate will then show you the interview room, talk about your child’s visit, and answer any questions you have about the process. This is a good time to tell the family advocate about your child’s feelings, emotional/mental development, language skills, and special needs. Then, the interviewer will come to the lobby, introduce herself to you and your child and then take your child to the interview room to begin The length of the interview varies depending on each child’s statements, needs, and specific circumstances.

During the interview, the interviewer will spend time getting to know your child and asking non-leading questions. This interview will be recorded on DVD in order to preserve your child’s statement. Only one person will interview your child. A social worker, a detective and our medical staff observe the interview from another room.

After your child’s interview begins, the Sunflower House Family Advocate will meet with you. After the interview is completed, the interviewer, family advocate, detective, DCF social worker, and medical staff then meet briefly. The detective and DCF social worker will then meet with you. They will tell you what they have learned and answer questions about what will happen next. Many times, they will need to ask you questions as well. Your child will remain in the lobby while you meet with the detective and social worker.

Family Advocacy

The Family Advocate at Sunflower House is available to meet with each child’s non-offending caregiver(s) to equip the family with the tools and knowledge needed to best support, understand, and protect the child. The Family Advocate will help caregivers learn how to access specialized resources to help resolve issues related to the abuse their child has experienced. The Family Advocate also provides referral information to other professionals and members of the community.

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