When a concern arises that a child has endured abuse, a Forensic Interview is the best way to gather information pertaining to the allegation. A Forensic Interview is an objective, non-leading and age-appropriate, information-gathering process. Even more important, it limits or even eliminates additional trauma to the child.
Unless a child is too young to talk, his or her involvement with the Lakes Area Child Advocacy Center will begin with a Forensic Interview. The interview is conducted by someone trained in child development and child forensic interviewing and will take place in our child friendly interview room. The interview will be permanently recorded.
The LACAC forensic interviewer has been trained to ask questions in an objective, non-leading and developmentally-appropriate manner for the age of the child. The interviewer wears an earpiece throughout the interview. This allows multidisciplinary team members, who are discreetly observing the interview, to ask additional questions that can clarify information and reduce the times a child will have to be interviewed. As a result, all members of the multidisciplinary team obtain the information needed to proceed on behalf of the child.
Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE)
When there is the concern that a child has been sexually assaulted, a SAFE exam will be scheduled. A SAFE is a comprehensive, non-invasive medical examination that is much like a well-child check-up. The exam will take place in our child friendly exam room .
A child will never be restrained during the exam and it is the child’s choice whether the exam is completed.
Our medical provider will use a colposcope as part of the exam. This sophisticated piece of forensic equipment records the evidence of abuse. This is a non invasive device that only records evidence of abuse through magnification.
Child at Risk Exam (CARE)
A CARE is a comprehensive, head-to-toe physical exam used to document recent or past trauma to a child. It will also take place in our child friendly examination room. We document all physical evidence collected during a CARE exam.
We are able to refer severe physical abuse cases to outside agencies for additional follow up services. Children have many choices during this exam and again, are not restrained at any time.
Multidisciplinary Team Coordination
The investigation of child abuse is a team effort. Law enforcement officers, juvenile officers, prosecutors, medical personnel, Missouri Children’s Division caseworkers, therapists and LACAC staff make up the multidisciplinary team that investigates each case. While LACAC staff interviews and examines the child, the entire team works behind the scenes, observing the interview and collaborating to determine a course of action to take on behalf of each child. The LACAC serves as the central meeting place where team members gather to begin the investigative process.