CACHSC Forensic Interviewers

CACHSC Forensic Interviewers

Forensic interviewers are the frontline unsung heroes who skillfully navigate the delicate balance of eliciting critical information while providing a safe and supportive environment for children to share their experiences.

Forensic Interviewers Week is a dedicated time to recognize and celebrate the crucial work of forensic interviewers. They are the frontline at CACHSC and play a vital role in supporting children who have experienced sexual abuse. This week is an opportunity to highlight their expertise, dedication, and the significant impact they have on the lives of young abuse victims in Hidalgo and Starr Counties.

CACHSC Forensic Interviewers ensure the child’s well-being while gathering essential facts about alleged physical or sexual abuse.

The Role Of Forensic Interviewers

Forensic Interviewers are highly trained professionals who specialize in conducting interviews with children suspected of being sexually abused. At CACHSC, our Forensic Interviewers, have been serving since 2016. Claudia Montoya, Cassandra Cruz, Samantha Villanueva, Alicia Quintanilla, and Jacqueline Jimenez play a crucial role by conducting neutral, fact-finding interviews, primarily focusing on cases involving children who disclose abuse and neglect. Their primary objective is to obtain accurate and reliable information in a manner that is sensitive, non-leading, and trauma-informed.

These interviews are critical in helping bring hope, healing, and justice to the children we see in our centers. Deploying age-appropriate techniques and a child-centered approach, Forensic Interviewers strive to reduce the trauma experienced by the child during the interview process. Children are interviewed in a child-friendly room at one of our centers rather than in the intimidating environment of a police station or hospital. This interview is powerful and pivotal as, for many, this is the first time they feel safe enough to share their story.

Results of the forensic interview help the multidisciplinary team led by CACHSC to identify the needs and risks faced by the child for effective safety planning and intervention strategies. The information gathered during these interviews enables us to identify the appropriate medical and therapeutic support to begin their path toward healing.

Information gathered by our Forensic Interviewer supports investigations by providing law enforcement and child protective services with essential information that can aid in investigating and prosecuting abuse cases.

The Courageous First Step: The Forensic Interview

A Sensitive Job Requires Specialized Training

To become a Forensic Interviewer, one must complete a rigorous 40-hour training in a nationally recognized protocol, such as Child First, APSAC, or NCAC. This training includes passing both a mock forensic interview and a written exam. Following this initial training, forensic interviewers must participate in ongoing Peer Review sessions and are required to complete a minimum of eight hours of professional development training every two years.

“I continually find myself in awe of this organization and how much it does for victims of child abuse. The forensic interview is the first step in our process. Our child victims are interviewed by specially trained law enforcement. In this interview, the child is asked to give a detailed account of what happened. This interview is recorded so that our child victims only need to tell their story once. This is really important. Allowing our child victims to only tell their story once mitigates the risk for re-traumatization that occurs when a child has to repeat their story multiple times.”

Dr. Danielle Fox, CACHSC Board Member

How Forensic Interviewers Help Children

Forensic interviewers are skilled in creating a safe and supportive environment where children feel comfortable sharing their experiences. Here’s how they help:

  • Building Trust: Establishing rapport and trust is crucial. Forensic interviewers are trained to make children feel heard and respected. This is essential for obtaining accurate information.
  • Using Specialized Techniques: They employ evidence-based techniques to ask non-suggestive and open-ended questions, ensuring the child’s account is as accurate and complete as possible.
  • Providing Emotional Support: During the interview, forensic interviewers are attentive to the child’s emotional state. They make the children feel safe and offer reassurance and support throughout the process.
  • Collaborating with Multidisciplinary Teams: Forensic interviewers work closely with our therapists, in addition to multiple law enforcement, legal, and medical agencies in Hidalgo and Starr Counties. This multi-disciplinary approach ensures a comprehensive response to the child’s needs.

Why Forensic Interviewers Week Matters

Forensic Interviewers Week is a time to:

  • Raise Awareness: Educate the public about the critical role of forensic interviewers in protecting children and bringing perpetrators to justice.
  • Show Appreciation: Acknowledge the dedication and hard work of forensic interviewers, who often deal with emotionally challenging cases to ensure the well-being of children.
  • Encourage Support: Highlight the importance of supporting forensic interviewers through funding, training, and resources to enable them to perform their essential work effectively.

 

CACHSC Conducted 166 Forensic Interviews In June

We invite you to join us in honoring our Forensic Interviewers and the sensitive and emotionally draining work they do to support the young victims in our community. Just last month, they conducted 166 forensic interviews.

Each forensic interview costs CACHSC approximately $75. Help sponsor this service so we can continue to meet the need in our community.