A Caring Environment
When children and their caregivers arrive at the Child Protection Center they are greeted by a caring, professional receptionist who helps reassure children and answers preliminary questions by family members. The waiting room is furnished with games, toys and books appropriate for children and adolescents and comfortable chairs and reading materials for adults.
Children meet with a Forensic Interviewer who is specially trained in child development and forensic interviewing techniques. Interviews are conducted in a child-friendly, safe, supportive environment using open-ended, non-leading questions.
Forensic interviews are digitally recorded. This reduces the need for the child to be interviewed multiple times by many different professionals. Minimizing the number of interviews reduces additional trauma to the child and preserves their statement. In addition, members of the multidisciplinary team (law enforcement, child abuse investigators, the CPC staff) observe the interview in process from another room.
The CPC provides three-session extended forensic interviews for children when a single interview may not be in the child’s best interest. These sessions move between structured questions and play activities to reduce anxiety and allow for flexibility to meet the needs of the child.
There is no charge for any services.
Support for Families
During the child’s forensic interview, a Family Support Specialist will meet with the non-offending caregiver to provide crisis intervention, specialized counseling and medical referrals, provide an understanding of the dynamics of child sexual abuse and of the legal process, as well as provide referrals to other agencies which provide needed services. The Family Support Specialist maintains contact with families to provide ongoing support and information about the investigation process as well as follow-up.
Referrals for Treatment and Social Services
Children who need a child abuse medical exam are referred to the SCAN Clinic at Children’s Mercy Hospital. These child-sensitive, non-invasive exams are done to ensure the child’s health and collect evidence as necessary.
Children are also referred for psychological trauma focused counseling to help them overcome the effect of their abuse. Referrals are made to local agencies that provide this evidence-based, specialized mental health counseling.
Families can receive referrals, if needed, to a variety of social services including legal aid, domestic violence shelters, food pantries, and parenting education classes.