What is a Forensic Interview?
At the Kids-TALK CAC, we want to make sure that every child feels safe and supported when talking about their experiences. One important way we do this is through something called a forensic interview. You might have been told that your child needs “a Kids-TALK”, which is actually a forensic interview.
A forensic interview is a special kind of conversation that is conducted by a trained professional called a Forensic Interviewer. Their main goal is to listen to children in a safe and sensitive way, so that they can gather important information about anything that may have happened. The Forensic Interviewer speaks to your child in a room that is designed to be calm and welcoming. They are there to listen to and understand what your child has to say. You will be able to visit the interview room with your child after you arrive to the CAC and before the start of the forensic interview.
The Forensic Interviewer knows how to ask questions in a way so that it is like a conversation and that helps your child feel comfortable sharing their experiences. They talk to children and teenagers of all ages each day and use gentle and age-appropriate language to make sure that your child understands the questions and can answer honestly. There are no “right” or “wrong” answers in a forensic interview. The Forensic Interviewers will listen carefully to your child without judgment. They will ask questions in a gentle way, making sure your child understands what they are asking. They will listen carefully to what your child has to say. The forensic interview is a step toward getting the help and support that your child deserves.
All forensic interviews in Michigan have to follow the Michigan Forensic Interviewing Protocol so that the interview is developmentally-sensitive, unbiased, and truth-seeking. For more information about the Protocol please click here.
How long is the appointment?
Forensic interview/advocacy appointments vary in length of appointment depending on the number of children being seen for an appointment. We allow a minimum for a minimum of two hours per appointment. While the appointment may not last all of that time, it is important that children and families have enough time to feel comfortable, meet with our team, understand what will be happening at the appointment, get the support and resources that you need, and not feel rushed. Sometimes talking about difficult things can be tiring or emotional, and that is normal. Our team understands that and will be patient and supportive throughout the process. Remember, we are here to help and make sure that you and your child feel safe and cared for throughout the entire process.
What can we expect when we arrive to the Kids-TALK CAC?
When you and your family arrive to the Kids-TALK CAC please park in our onsite parking lot! Here are few things that you can expect:
A warm welcome: You will be greeted by friendly staff members who are there to hep and support you. They will welcome you with warm smiles and friendly greetings and make you feel welcome and comfortable.
A safe and caring environment: Our CAC is designed to be a safe and welcoming place for children and families. There will be different rooms where you will be able to talk in private and spend time together. You will meet with a Child and Family Advocate who will tell you about the caring professionals who are specially trained to help children and families who may have experienced difficult situations. The Advocate and will show you where the forensic interview room is and where the restrooms are. We have spaces that are designed to be child-friendly and make children feel comfortable while they are at Kids-TALK CAC.
Meeting with the team: You will have the opportunity to meet with the team of caring professionals who specialize in helping children who may have experienced abuse, neglect, or trauma. You will be able to ask questions and share any information that you think is important for the team to know. At the end of the forensic interview, you will again meet with the team who will share “next steps” with you. We want to make sure that you and your child have the support you need moving forward.
Sharing your story: Your child will be given the chance to talk about what happened in a private and safe setting. While this is happening, you will meet with the Advocate who will be there to support you and ask questions to better understand your experiences.
Support and resources: Your child’s Advocate will offer support and resources to you and your family. They can answer any questions that you have and provide information and resources about medical evaluations, therapy, and other services and support that may be helpful for your family’s healing process. For more information about the services and support provided by your child and Family Advocates, please click here.
Respect and understanding: The Kids-TALK CAC team will treat you and your family with respect, kindness, and understanding. They know that no two families are the same and are dedicated to making sure that you feel safe and cared for during your time at the CAC. Again, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to ask our team members.
What should your child/transporter bring?
When you come for a forensic interview at the Kids-TALK CAC, there are a few things that you might want to bring with you.
Comfort items: Your child may bring something (without sound) such as a stuffed animal, a blanket, or special toy that helps them feel safe and comfortable. Having something familiar can help a child relax or feel more at ease during an interview. This may also include a fidget toy (without sound), although we do have fidget toys available for children of all ages.
Support person: It is very important that the person(s) who comes to the CAC with your child is a trusted adult that can provide your child with comfort and support. They can be with your child before and after the interview and help your child feel more secure. Additionally, it can be helpful for the adult to also have a support person.
Questions: Our team welcomes questions and loves to help! If you have any questions or concerns about the forensic interview or the process, please ask during the reminder call that you will receive one day before your appointment or write your questions down and bring them with you to the CAC. This way, you will not forget to ask anything that is in on your mind.
Our goal is to make sure that children and families feel safe and comfortable while at the CAC. The Kids-TALK CAC team is there to support you and make sure you have what you need.
How should you prepare your child for the appointment?
It is normal for your child to feel nervous or worried before a forensic interview; however, the Forensic Interviewer is here to help and support your child. It is important for your (or other adults) not to interview your child or ask a lot of questions about what happened. Helping a child feel prepared for a forensic interview at Kids-TALK CAC is important to help them feel more comfortable and ready.
Here are some other suggestions:
Explain the purpose: You can share that a forensic interview is a special conversation with a trained professional whose job it is to talk to children and teenagers every day. The Forensic Interviewer wants to listen, support them, and keep them safe.
Reassure and support: Make sure that your child knows that you are there for them, that it is important to tell the truth, that it is okay to talk about what happened, and that you will support them through the process.
Describe the process: Explain simply to your child what might happen during the forensic interview. Let them know that they will be talking with someone in a safe and comfortable room. Tell them that the Forensic Interviewer will ask them questions and it is important for them to answer truthfully.
Talk about feelings: Encourage your child to talk about their feelings and let them know that it is normal to have those feelings. Let your child know that the Forensic Interviewer understands and will help them feel as comfortable as possible.
Answer questions: Do your best to answer questions that your child may have. Your answers do not have to be detailed. Let your child know that it is okay to have questions and encourage them to ask you. If you do not know the answer, let your child know that you will work to find the answer. Again, the Kids-TALK CAC team is happy to help answer any questions that you or your child may have.
Practice self-care: It is important for you and your child get enough rest and maintain as normal of a routine as possible. Take care of your physical and emotional well-being!
Remember, at Kids-TALK CAC children’s well-being is our priority. The Kids-TALK CAC team is trained to work with children and teenagers who may have experienced trauma. They will do their best to create a safe and supportive environment. A supportive adult in a child’s life plays a very positive role in a child’s healing.