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Frequently Asked Question's
What can I expect when I take my child to the CJC?
Upon arriving at the CJC you will be greeted by a CJC staff member and asked to wait in a living room area where there will be toys, books and snacks on hand for you and your child's comfort. Shortly after this a child protective services worker and/or detective will meet with you briefly and then take your child back to a child friendly interview room to be interviewed. You will be asked to wait in the living room while your child is interviewed. The CJC coordinator will give you a resource packet of information explaining the criminal justice process and will answer any questions that you have. You will be given information that will help you get connected with counselors in the area if you are interested in getting mental health services for your child. After the interview is over the detective and case worker will let you know what their next steps are going to be in investigating the case. They may recommend that your child have a medical exam, counseling etc. This is a good time to raise any concerns you have or to ask any questions.
Will I be able to sit in the room with my child while he/she is being interviewed?
It has been our experience that many parents have great difficulty containing their emotions when they hear their children disclose abuse. Some children may feel uncomfortable and/or reluctant to disclose abuse in front of their parents because they are embarrassed or do not want to upset them or cause them pain. Some children may feel they will be in trouble with their parents if they disclose sexual abuse. Also, if a parent witnesses a child's disclosure they would automatically become a witness in a court case and may be asked to testify. Lastly, there have been occasions where children have disclosed abuse by the same parent that has accompanied them to the CJC. This disclosure may not have anything to do with the original allegation. Due to all of these factors it is not considered best practice to have parents accompany their child into the interview room.
What happens if my child is afraid or is too shy to talk to the investigators at the CJC?
Unfortunately this does happen. If children don't disclose information at the CJC it is very difficult for the case to proceed forward. This is because parents and therapists are considered third parties and their testimony is not admissible in court. It is required that your child disclose the information to someone who is excluded from the hearsay rule. Those excluded from this rule are nurses, doctors, detectives and case workers. Sometimes if a child does not disclose but the parent has grave concerns that their child is being victimized it is best to get the child in to see a counselor who can work with the child over time. If the child then begins disclosing information, the counselor can call in another report and your child can be interviewed at the CJC again when they feel more comfortable talking about the abuse.
Will my child have to testify?
If the county attorney accepts your child's case for prosecution and the alleged perpetrator denies the allegation the case may go to trial. There is a possibility that your child may have to testify if the court case reaches the trial phase. A victim advocate will be on hand to assist you and your child if this is the case. Victim advocates can put children and parents at ease by educating and preparing them for what to expect in a court room. The recording of the child's interview at the CJC cannot replace a child's testimony on the stand.
Why was I told not to question my child any further when I called to report the abuse?
Investigators and prosecutors want to make sure that a child was not coached to disclose information. If a child is questioned over and over again they may think they need to tell the "person" what they want to hear or they could begin to change their story. It is best to let the professionals handle the interviewing process. Parents should avoid video or audio recording your child at home while asking them questions, as this will taint the interviewing process. Furthermore it is best practice to wait to get your child in to see a counselor until after the CJC interview has been conducted.
What happens after my child is interviewed at the CJC?
If your child discloses abuse during the interview at the Children's Justice Center the detective assigned to the case will attempt to make contact with the alleged perpetrator for an interview. The alleged perpetrator may or may not cooperate with the detective's request for an interview. The detective will continue with the investigation and gather any evidence and other information pertinent to the case.
I want to get my child help, but I can't afford counseling, what should I do?
Crime Victim Reparations is a government funded program that pays for a variety of services for victims of crime. In the case of child sexual abuse, crime victim reparations can assist with the costs of counseling, medical care, if applicable, and in some cases changing locks on doors or moving expenses. The CJC coordinator will provide parents with a Crime Victim reparations form to fill out. You can apply for crime victim reparations to pay for anything that your insurance does not cover, such as out of pocket expenses like co-pays and deductibles. Crime victim reparations does require you to choose a counselor on your insurance preferred provider list. If you do not have any mental health coverage at all you can choose any mental health provider you would like and Crime victim Reparations will pay the full amount in most situations.