Dear Parents & Caregivers,
Your child’s class will be participating in a very important program called
“Speak Up Be Safe” that teaches children about personal safety. During
two classroom sessions, a trained facilitator will present research-based,
age-appropriate lessons to help children learn the skills needed to
prevent or interrupt cycles of neglect, bullying and abuse.
Because adults are responsible for keeping children safe, the lessons
focus on helping children identify safe adults in their life. Children will
also learn five safety rules to help their safe adult keep them safe:
This program is voluntary. If you DO NOT want your child to participate,
please return the bottom of this letter to your child’s teacher. If we do not
receive the form, we will assume your child has permission to be included
in the lessons.
If you have questions about the program, feel free to contact me. You can
also visit www.childhelp.org/SpeakUpBeSafe for more information.
What is the CAC?
The Child Advocacy Center (CAC) is a safe, child-friendly setting for children to talk with caring adults. We begin with a forensic interview and work with a team to ensure children and their non-offending family members or guardians get the services and support they need related to the complaint.
Does a referral to the CAC mean that my child was abused?
Not necessarily. When allegations of abuse are made, the MDT has a mandate to look into these concerns thoroughly. Sometimes abuse has occurred, but not always. Interviews are done in a manner that is neutral and not to “prove” abuse occurred. A forensic interview is only one piece of an entire investigation. Other sources of information are considered and reviewed to ensure the safety of your child.
What happens during the interview?
Your child will be interviewed in a child-
friendly room with a specially trained forensic interviewer. The interviewer asks neutral, fact-finding questions in a way that is sensitive to your child’s age and ability. The interview will be video and audio recorded. This may help reduce the need for repeat interviews. MDT investigators, usually the DCS Family Case Manager and detective observe the interview from a separate room. Your child will not have to see the detective while at JACY House.
Should I prepare my child for this interview?
Children are most comfortable when they know what to expect. Explain to your child that he or she will be meeting with a person whose job is to talk with children. You should not tell your child what to say. Please be mindful of conversations you have with others around your child as it could influence the information he/she shares during his/her interview. Reassure your child that he or she is not in trouble and that it is okay to talk to the interviewer and that it is important to tell the truth.
Frequently Asked Questions
May I stay with my child during the interview?
No. The interviewer must talk with your child alone. It is difficult for children to talk about abuse they may have experienced and difficult for parents to hear. Having a parent in the room may distract or inhibit children during the interview. Children may also want the parent to answer questions for them. It is best if the child can provide information independently.
What will happen after the interview?
The Detective assigned to the case and/or the Department of Child Services (DCS) assessor may want to talk with you before and/or after the interview. At this time, they may be able to tell you what may happen next regarding the investigation. This may also be a good time for you to share any important information and your concerns.
May I bring a friend or family member to wait with me?
You are more than welcome to bring a support person with you to the CAC. However, you should not bring the person being accused of maltreatment. There is usually a Child & Family Advocate available to provide you with support during your child’s interview.
What is the advantage of having my child interviewed at the CAC?
Your child is our top priority. The CAC provides a place that is friendly, private and safe for children to talk. The forensic interview and the MDT approach reduce the trauma your child may experience by limiting the number of times his/her story is told. Services for your family will be better coordinated, and you will have the opportunity to meet and ask questions of the people working on your child’s case.