Q: What should I tell my child about going to the CAC?
A: It is important to be mindful about what you discuss with your child prior to your visit to the CAC. Use positive but general language about where you are going. Some examples are: “We are going to a place where kids can talk about how they are doing and if they are safe.”
If your child wants to talk about the abuse before the interview, the best thing you can do is listen and be supportive. We understand that it is very difficult, but it is better not to ask your child a lot of questions before the interview. If you are having difficulty determining how to talk to your child prior to your CAC visit, contact The Safe Center at 516-465-4778 and ask for the Child Victim Advocate Program.
Q: What will happen when we come to the CAC for the first time?
A: When you arrive at The Safe Center, you will be greeted by a staff person at the CAC and shown to the waiting room. The waiting room has lots of activities for children including books, games, coloring materials, and DVDs. You may meet the investigative team of professionals who are working on your child’s case. This may include Child Protective Services, Law Enforcement, prosecution, and others. If you brought other children with you, you and the other children will stay in the waiting room during the forensic interview.
Q: Can I be in the room when my child is interviewed?
A: Interviews are conducted by a member of the CAC with experience in interviewing children. The interviewer and the child are the only two people in the interview room during the interview. Caregivers are not included in the interview because investigators need to remain as objective as possible during the evaluation of abuse allegations.
While many caregivers might think that it would be in the child’s best interest for the caregiver to be in the room, it is often very difficult for the caregiver to hear their child talk about abuse, and the caregiver’s presence and reactions can impact what the child says about the abuse.
Q: What happens after my visit to the CAC?
A: In the days and weeks following the child interview, CAC team members will continue to investigate the abuse allegations. They may follow up with you to ask additional questions or ask you to provide additional information. Your Advocate will be reaching out to you regarding services for you and your child.
Q: How should I help my child after her/his visit to the CAC?
A: It is critical to your child’s recovery process that things return to normal as quickly as possible. It is also important for your child to know that the abuse was not her/his fault. While this might seem common sense to adults, children often feel personally responsible for the abuse or for not telling sooner.
Q: What should I do if my child keeps talking about this?
A: Children often continue to talk about the allegation in the days that follow their visit to the CAC. While we encourage you to listen to your child, it is important to not continually discuss the allegations, as this can be disruptive to the child’s healing process. If you find your child is continually talking about what happened and you are having difficulty redirecting or changing the subject, talk to your Advocate about some of the supportive options available for you and your child.
Q: Is the medical exam invasive?
A: No. Our medical examiners avoid utilizing invasive techniques. The examiner will explain each step of the process to the child and the caregiver to help them understand the process and to reduce anxiety.
Q: What is done during the medical exam?
A: The Exam is a general head-to-toe physical including an examination of the child’s private areas. Depending on the nature of the alleged abuse, the exam may include urine and blood tests for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.
Q: Will the examiner share the results of the exam?
A: Following the exam, the examiner will sit down with you to review what they saw. However, if tests are done, the results might take some time to get back. The examiner will let you know how long the results will take and let you know when the results are received.
Q: If I send my child to counseling, will s/he have to talk about what happened over and over?
A: No. Your child will not be pushed to talk about the allegations if s/he is not comfortable. Our Child Counselors use verbal and non-verbal techniques which help children explore and process their thoughts and feelings about the abuse.
Q: What do these services cost?
A: All services through the Children’s Mental Health Program are offered free of charge.
What to do if you suspect abuse:
If you suspect a child is a victim of abuse, you can call the New York State Central Register at: 1-800-342-3720
If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call TDD/TTY at 1-800-638-5163
or have your Video Relay System provider call 1-800-342-3720
If you believe that a child is in immediate danger, call 911 or your local police department.