Forensic interviews are neutral, comfortable, child-friendly, and age-appropriate
What is a forensic interview?
Forensic interviews ask non-leading questions from a trained interviewer and are discreetly recorded for use later in court. These questions are designed to help a child disclose the truth about what may or may not have happened to them before, during, and after a crime is committed.
- Sylvia’s CAC offers forensic interviews at the request of the Department of Child Services or a law enforcement agency.
- Forensic interviews help prosecutors understand what transpired, and may help in pressing charges against a perpetrator.
- Forensic interviews help us understand what else a child and their non-offending caregivers might need, such as counseling, mental health or physical health exams, guidance through the court system, or just a backpack with a fresh set of clothes for tomorrow.
Forensic interviews will:
- Enable a child to speak freely, safely, and without repercussions or fear
- Be neutral, child-focused, and ask non-leading questions
- Take as much time as necessary
- Discreetly record the child’s statements and the interviewer’s questions with cameras and microphones
- Enable other multidisciplinary team members—like caseworkers and detectives—to watch from a separate, closed-circuit room
Forensic interviews will not:
- Force a child to answer or give a statement
- Ask a child to do something they are not emotionally, mentally, or physical able to do
- Hurry or rush a child
- Expose the child to additional questioning from police, prosecutors, detectives, or caseworkers
Forensic interviews are provided at no-cost to every family, every time, at Sylvia’s CAC
What happens after the forensic interview?
Once an interview is finished—whether it’s an hour-long or all-night—a DVD of the recording is handed off to Prosecutors. The Prosecutors will review the case and determine what action, if any, should be taken.
DCS Caseworkers will also decide if any action in the best interest of the child needs to be taken if it hasn’t already.
FAQs about Forensic Interviews at Sylvia’s CAC
Can I watch a recording of my child?
No. Only the forensic interviewer is with the child at the time of the interview. Through closed-circuit TV, investigators and prosecutors are watching in another room. They are the only people allowed by law and policy to be in or watch the room. The interview may be admitted as evidence in court. In some cases, at the judge’s discretion, a recording may be played in lieu of testimony from the child.
Does the forensic interview cost anything?
No. All interviews regardless of a family’s income are done at no-cost to families.
How long will the interview take?
Interviews typically last a couple of hours but can vary greatly. We tell people to expect to spend a few hours here. But, depending on a child’s comfort and age and other factors such as the complexity or duration of their circumstances, it can take much longer.
What if my child does not want to talk?
Forensic interviewers at the CAC have the experience and training to work through difficult situations at the child’s pace. Parents and caregivers can help by reminding their children they are not in trouble, they did nothing wrong, and are loved and supported.
Who will conduct the interview?
At Sylvia’s CAC, most interviews are conducted by Kassie Frazier or Danielle Allen.
The police already questioned my child, why do they need to do this again?
Unless your child has been interviewed many many times, they will benefit from a complete forensic interview at the CAC. Law Enforcement may have asked some questions to understand the urgency of the situation or protect the child, but the interview we do at Sylvia’s CAC will be thorough and complete.
Do I need to bring anything with me to my child’s appointment?
You should bring your state-issued ID. You can bring an insurance card if your child receives additional medical care or therapy. However, most families need only bring themselves and an ID.
How quickly can I see my child after the interview?
For non-offending caregivers, you’re free to go almost immediately after the interview is complete. A Victim Advocate will meet with you briefly to discuss optional services, offer additional help, and help you understand next steps.
Do kids stay, sleep, or live at the CAC?
No, and the CAC is not a shelter or police facility. It is a neutral, non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention and investigation of informed abuse, neglect, or maltreatment. We are also not a facility owned by or run by the Indiana Department of Child Services, though we work closely with them and law enforcement.
How can I help the CAC?
We’re a nonprofit operating entirely on the support of private donations. You can contribute online now with money, volunteerism, or both.
A Victim Advocate is with every family the whole time
Sylvia’s CAC will connect each family with a Victim Advocate at the time of the interview. The Victim Advocate will:
- Help the whole family throughout the court process
- Actively connect families with partner organizations
- And generally be their guide for whatever the child might need with respect to our services.
The Victim Advocate will also aid in connecting children with low or no-cost medical and mental health exams conducted by trauma-informed pediatricians or other child-first practitioners.
In some cases, the results of these exams may also be helpful to investigators and prosecutors. In every situation, these exams are optional and are at the discretion of the non-offending parent or guardian.More about Victim Advocacy