The Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) is the heart of the NAC’s response to allegations of child abuse. MDTs allow for a prompt, sensitive, interagency response to reports of alleged child sexual abuse and serious physical abuse. The MDT also provides supportive and follow-up services to children and their families.
CHANGING THE CHILD ABUSE SYSTEM
Forensic Interviewers have specialized training in conducting interviews of children. They ensure that reliable information is elicited from the child in
a legally, clinically, and culturally sound manner.
Assistant District Attorney
ADA’s determines appropriate criminal charges to be taken in child abuse investigations. They aid in the investigation by law enforcement and are responsible for final prosecution of criminal case.
Advocates are the “link” between the child/ family and the Team. They
are the main contact for the family throughout their case, providing information, support and safety planning through the investigation,
assessment and court process.
Local and State police investigate and gather evidence in child abuse
cases. They take out initial charges with the goal of public safety and
holding offenders accountable.
Department of Children and Families
DCF focus is on child protection and strengthening families. Investigators participates in overall investigation as a valued multidisciplinary team member. They determine if abuse/neglect has occurred by caretaker.
Pediatric Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (Pedi-SANE) Nurses provide specialized medical exams for child sexual abuse victims, including photographic documentation of exam; evidence collection, and
Mental Health Coordinator
The Mental Health Coordinator provides referrals to families for trauma informed clinicians. They provide trainings and community outreach,
as well as consultation for child abuse professionals.
THE FORENSIC INTERVIEW (SAIN)
During the investigation period, a joint forensic interview is conducted using a two-way mirror and listening device. The goal of this multi-disciplinary team approach is to minimize trauma to children by limiting the number of interviews about the abuse. A trained and experienced investigator, sensitive to the needs of children, conducts the interview, while the MDT observes behind a two-way mirror. The team is able to get all the information about the case without having to re-interview the child. The interview is video-recorded. The MDT team will meet with the non-offending parent after the interview to discuss the disclosure and next steps of the investigation
What should I tell my child about the interview?
Children are most comfortable when they know what to expect. We suggest that you explain to your child that he or she will be meeting with a concerned adult to talk about what happened to him/her. Do not tell your child what to say; simply tell your child to tell the truth.Tell your child the person that will be talking with him/her talks to lots of children and it is that person’s job to make sure kids are safe. Please reassure your child that he or she is not in trouble and is not going to this appointment because he or she has done something wrong.
Only one member of the Team will interview your child, while the other Team members observe through a two-way mirror. The parent will wait for the child in an adjacent Family Waiting Area.
Can I sit with my child during the interview?
Parents do not sit with their child during the interview. It is important for the interviewer to talk with your child alone. Since it is often difficult for children to talk about these issues, a parent’s presence may inhibit or distract the child during the interview. Most children are comfortable in separating from their parents and talking with the interviewer. However, if they are not, we will not force them to participate in the interview.
Can I sit with the Team during the interview?
Parents are not permitted to sit with the Team during the interview. Because this is an investigation, the Team members need to carefully observe, assess and document the interview. They would be unavailable to respond to your immediate concerns or questions at the time. You will talk with the Team after the interview for an update and an opportunity to ask any questions.
We encourage you to bring a family member or friend to wait with you in our family waiting room while your child is interviewed and to sit with your child while you are meeting with the Team.
What will happen after this interview?
The professionals on the Team will meet briefly to discuss the information disclosed during the interview. You will then meet with the Team to discuss information about your child’s interview and hear the Team’s recommendations about the investigation. The Victim/Witness Advocate will provide you with a folder of community resources. The Nurse Practitioner is able to talk to you about scheduling a medical exam for your child or to talk with you about any medical questions or concerns you may have. She will explain the medical exam is a non-invasive exam and is not painful
to the child.
Will this be the only time my child will have to
speak about the abuse?
It is important to understand that participation in this interview does not mean your child will never have to speak about the abuse again. If the case moves forward toward prosecution, an Assistant District Attorney and Victim/Witness Advocate will talk with you about the court process. We encourage families and children to speak with experienced mental health clinicians about their thoughts and feelings about what has happened.
Most child abuse investigations begin with an interview of the child.
A Team member will contact you to explain the interview process, answer any questions you may have, and set up a time for your child's interview. In an effort to limit the number of times that a child will need to be interviewed, the NAC coordinates a single initial interview of each child. This interview involves a child speaking with the Forensic Interviewer while the rest of the Team members observe the interview from behind a two-way mirror. This interview is video recorded for documentation purposes.
Pediatric Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Services
Pediatric Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Services at the NAC are offered when there is a concern or report of sexual abuse. This exam is important for several reasons: (1) to ensure the health and well being of the child; (2) to reassure the child that everything is OK with their body; (3) to diagnose and treat medical conditions that may be related to sexual abuse, such as a sexually transmitted disease; (4) to document any possible physical and forensic findings; and (5) to allow for collection of evidence that may be present on the child’s body or clothing within 72 hours. This medical exam is not painful or invasive, and the process provides an opportunity for the child and family to be linked to other important services and resources. Medical exams are conducted onsite at the NAC in a child-friendly medical suite by a Pedi-SANE Nurse.
Victim Advocacy & Prosecution
The Unit is partnered with the Norfolk Advocates for Children which
utilizes a multidisciplinary, culturally sensitive and child-friendly approach
to the investigation of child sexual and physical abuse.
When a child alleges sexual or physical abuse, a SAIN (Sexual Abuse Intervention Network) team is assembled at Norfolk Advocates for Children. The team includes a trained, forensic interviewer, an assistant district attorney and victim witness advocate from the Special Victims Unit, a pediatric nurse trained in child trauma (PediSANE), a Department of Children and Families (DCF) worker, local and/or state police officers, and a mental health consultant. The forensic interviewer conducts the interview of the child and then the remainder of the team observes behind a two-way mirror. Following the interview, team members meet to discuss the investigation, prosecution, victim advocacy, medical follow-up, and mental health referrals. The child and family are provided with victim services and support.
The Special Victims Unit assistant district attorneys and victim witness advocates work with the child and their family throughout the criminal process to ensure the best prosecution of these important cases. For more information regarding the Special Victims Unit within the Norfolk District Attorney's Office, please go to www.norfolkda.com
Babies and young children are particularly vulnerable to physical abuse. The Special Victims Unit and Norfolk Advocates for Children are committed to education and community awareness regarding the safety of young children and reducing physical abuse of children and are available to provide training throughout the community.
The Special Victims Unit also leads the Norfolk Child Fatality Review Team. The team, made up of medical professionals, the judiciary and law enforcement officers, regularly meets to review childhood deaths in an effort to decrease the incidents of child deaths.
Mental Health Services
Mental Health referrals are provided to victims and their families to provide information, safety planning and support throughout the investigation and assessment process. The goal of these services is to develop links with community providers who specialize in the evaluation and treatment of children and families who have experienced abuse or violence in the home.
Education & Training
The NAC provides free community outreach and trainings on the topics of Recognizing and Responding to Child Abuse, Bullying and Cyber-Bullying, Sexting and Today’s Youth, and Teen Dating Violence.