Sylvia’s Child Advocacy Center was awarded a $19,000 grant earlier this month from the United Way of Central Indiana. Two remarkable projects have already been put to use with these funds.
New forensic interview system improves sharing and security
“The first is we got the new VidaNyx system,” says Kassie Frazier, Executive Director or Sylvia’s CAC. “We can now share interviews directly with prosecutors, the Department of Child Services, and law enforcement.” In the past, Sylvia’s CAC — and most every CAC — recorded forensic interviews with children to a DVD. The DVD was then handed off to law enforcement for continued investigation, prosecutors for trial, and DCS for case evidence.
“We switched to VidaNyx to lessen the time people are around each other during COVID,” says Frazier, adding, “And many of our multidisciplinary team partners have new computers that don’t come with DVD drives anymore.”
VidaNyx costs Sylvia’s CAC just over $4,000 a year, covered by the grant this year, and has other benefits. “We bought into it because the video is uploaded to the cloud for two weeks,” says Frazier. This allows enough time for team members to watch and download the file. DCS caseworkers, law enforcement agencies, and Prosecutors can then securely store that footage in their digital file management systems. Those systems are not new and have been used by many teams for years.
“VidaNyx also supplies us with a transcript of the video and we can upload photos of the easel sheets,” adds Frazier. The transcript is powered by artificial intelligence and while not perfect in every guess of a word, the presence of a searchable text transcript at all is an upgrade over previous recordings. The easel sheets are often used by children to draw or point to diagrams — like of a body or a house — to accurately describe where the alleged abuse occurred.
After two weeks, the footage is erased from VidaNyx’s cloud storage. Previous DVDs were always only as secure as the place they were stored. If someone left a disk in a car or folder — common when every disk was physically driven somewhere — the risk was always there for theft, though that’s never happened for Sylvia’s CAC. Cloud storage brings other risks of theft and privacy issues, but now digital logs are available for everyone involved. “Anytime someone logs in or tries to watch or download a recording, they have to use their phone to confirm their login. This traces everyone who accesses the footage,” says Frazier.
Training for first responders, childcare, and partners resuming
With the remaining $15,000 in United Way funds, Sylvia’s CAC is resuming first responder training sessions in Boone County. These events have been postponed during the pandemic and are a critical way of helping first responders — include police, fire, and EMS workers — know what to do if a child discloses abuse.
“If a child does an outcry to someone, what do they do and say? This training prepares first responders to answer that,” says Frazier. An example might be law enforcement arriving at a home to arrest an alleged perpetrator, the best practice is to reduce potential trauma to the child. This includes doing almost everything opposite of what you see in TV. “We train attendees not to claim someone is ‘going away for life’ or arresting someone in front of a child,” says Frazier. Both of which can have long-lasting effects on a child, even if the perpetrator is guilty.
Sylvia’s CAC is opening additional Stewards of Children training to more partners in Boone County, including daycare and child care facilities, pregnancy centers, halfway houses, and recovery centers. “For halfway houses and pregnancy centers, those women have children and sometimes need help understanding all the things they can do to protect children,” says Frazier.
All new trainings are currently being scheduled. If your organization or team is interested in scheduling training for adults, kids, or teens, contact Sylvia’s CAC.