CASGSL provides forensic interviews to children who have allegedly been sexually abused, physically abused or witnessed a violent crime. The goal of the interview is to provide a safe environment where the child is invited to talk about matters of concerns. When indicated, details of the alleged abuse are sought. At the same time, the child is reassured that the abuse was not his or her fault.
CASGSL receives referrals for forensic interviews from the Children's Division/Missouri Department of Social Services and/or law enforcement agencies. In these cases, a call to the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline, or a police report, has been made, indicating suspicion that a child has been abused. The scheduling of the interview is coordinated through CASGSL. A team of individuals from one or more agencies including: law enforcement, child protection, the prosecutor's office, the family court, medical professionals, and CASGSL convene as the multidisciplinary team.
During the interview, the child sits in a comfortable, child-friendly room and is interviewed by a trained CASGSL Forensic Interviewer in an effort to explore areas of safety and concern. The interviewer is careful to identify and consider the child’s individual needs and communication styles. Care is given to avoid “putting words in the child’s mouth.” Other members of the team observe via a one-way mirror and communicate with the interviewer discreetly if necessary.
Following the interview, the team meets with the parent/caregiver to discuss the next steps. Those steps may include referrals for a physical examination, therapeutic intervention or an extended forensic interview. The extended forensic interview may be offered to those children who have barriers and difficulties with completing the process in a single interview. The extended interview may continue over 5 sessions, including one with the parent/caregiver.
CASGSL also provides victim advocacy services for the families and children who receive forensic interviews. Our victim advocates assists families in understanding the multiple investigator/court systems and address any immediate needs. Victim advocacy services include, but are not limited to: providing education regarding the criminal justice system and information regarding victim rights; crisis intervention; community referrals; and information on case status. In addition they provide team members information and consultation to ensure movement toward a successful completion of investigations.