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 neglect, 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 NICHD Forensic Interview model. Interviews are observed by law enforcement and/or child protective services.
scheduling an appointment
When a referral comes into ACP, our experienced Intake Coordinators speak with caregivers and investigators to coordinate the forensic interview and explain the two-part process of the interview and medical exam. To schedule an appointment at your ACP county site, click here.
the day of the forensic interview
The caregiver, CYF caseworker, and law enforcement will be greeted by ACP’s Family Advocate or Family Therapeutic Specialist in the front waiting room, who will assist the family in legal paperwork and answer any questions they may have.
Following this, the caregiver will meet with the Forensic Interviewer and observers to provide background information pertaining to the child and case.
The child will then meet with the Forensic Interviewer independently. The only persons permitted to observe the child interviews are the investigators. During this time, the caregiver will meet with the advocates in the waiting room to discuss any further questions.
All children are recommended for a forensic medical examination by our expert child abuse pediatrician following their forensic interview. This will help to ensure the health and safety of the child, as well as elicit any signs of present abuse. You can read more about the medical examination portion of our process here.
what is the investigative process?
The Multi-Disciplinary Team consists of social workers, law enforcement, District Attorneys, advocates, and ACP staff. All of these professionals are sensitive to the needs of you and your child. One of our expert pediatricians will address any medical concerns if a physician consultation is conducted. Law enforcement will answer any questions and determine 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.
what should my child know about the interview?
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 them and it is that person’s job to help make sure that kids are safe. It is important to reassure your child and give them permission to talk freely; however it is equally important not to rehearse with your child or guide them in what to say.
can I be present with my child during the interview?
It is important for the interviewer to talk with your child alone. If something abusive has happened to your child, it might be difficult for them to talk about this in front of 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.
how long will the interview take?
Most of our patients are interviewed one time with the average evaluation session lasting around one hour, depending on the case and child. Factors that can impact the length of the interview include the child’s age, the complexity of the case and the cooperation of all parties.
will this traumatize my child?
The interviews are conducted in a calm, sensitive manner by clinicians skilled in talking with children about traumatic issues. Many children experience a sense of relief in finally disclosing the abuse and in bringing an end to experiences which they have neither sought nor understood.
what are the interviewers' qualifications?
All interviewers have extensive experience in forensic interviewing, with specialties in the fields of child development, social work, and psychology, with most holding Master’s and Ph.D’s. All clinicians obtain continuous clinical supervision and participate in continuing education regarding advances in the field of child abuse.