Our Forensic Interview Process
Each child’s developmental age and cognitive, social, and emotional capacities are taken into account throughout our child-friendly forensic interview. The interview will be conducted by a single forensic interviewer who has been trained to ask non-leading questions. The interview will be observed by a number of our community partners, including law enforcement and child welfare. This reduces the number of times the child is required to speak about their experience. They feel safe and supported throughout their interviews at The Tree House Child Advocacy Center of Montgomery County, MD, which are held in a neutral setting rather than a police station.
We work hard to put children at ease and allow them to talk about their experiences in an understanding, non-judgmental environment. Children are never forced to talk about anything they don’t want to talk about and they can stop the interview at anytime. Children may draw while talking, and the interviewer may utilize anatomical drawings or writing to assist them in relaying their experiences in a way that makes them feel comfortable and secure.
After the child’s interview is completed, our community partners will meet with the child’s parents or guardians to discuss the interview as well as the next stages in the investigation.
Will I be able to watch my child’s interview?
No. Only professionals directly involved in the investigation are allowed to observe the interview. This is done to reduce the possible stress that can be placed on a child and to provide a neutral setting for the child and the investigation.
Many of us working at The Tree House Child Advocacy Center of Montgomery County, MD are parents just like you. We understand how being in the same room with our child may influence what the child says or doesn’t say. If our child doesn’t answer quickly enough, we may answer for them. Whenever we have made exceptions to the rule, it just doesn’t work. It’s hard for us as moms and dads to sit quietly or not influence the interview with a concerned look or an emotional reaction.
Parents are also not allowed in the observation room during their child’s interview, only professionals are allowed in the observation room.
All of the interviews at the Child Advocacy Center are recorded to minimize the number of times your child will have to talk about what happened. The DVD recording of the interview is turned over to law enforcement and/or Child Welfare Service as part of evidence in a potential criminal case and/or Child Welfare Investigation.