The Penquis Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) promotes safety and healing for child sexual assault victims and their non-offending caregivers by providing a space where many agencies, including law enforcement, child protection, prosecution, mental health, medical, victim advocates, and child advocates, work together to investigate, treat, manage, and prosecute child sexual abuse cases.
Due to the confidential nature of referrals to the Penquis CAC, the program is not permitted to discuss an actual story from a family served. Instead, we have chosen to provide a generic example of how a case moves through the CAC process on the day of the forensic interview.
The family advocate at the Penquis CAC receives a phone call from law enforcement requesting a forensic interview of an 11-year-old who has been sexually assaulted. The Family Advocate gathers the case information and then reaches out to the District Attorney’s office and Child Protective Services so that all multi-disciplinary team (MDT) members are given the opportunity to attend the forensic interview. The family advocate then calls the non-offending caregiver and discusses what to expect while at the Penquis CAC. The family advocate offers the additional support of a sexual assault advocate and answers any questions the caregiver may have. The family advocate schedules the forensic interview on the day and time that works best for the non-offending caregiver and the child and then notifies law enforcement, the District Attorney’s office and child protective services.
On the day of the interview members of the MDT assigned to the case who will be watching the interview arrive 15 minutes before the child and non-offending caregiver to discuss the case together as a team. Once the non-offending caregiver and child arrive, the Family Advocate brings the caregiver and child into the family room. While the Family Advocate waits with the child, the non-offending caregiver meets with the MDT in a separate room and signs the consent to conduct and to record the forensic interview.
The forensic interviewer then comes and gets the child for the interview, brings the child to the interview room and, before the interview starts, explains the cameras and observers. The non-offending caregiver stays in the Family Room with the Advocate while the forensic interview of the child is occurring. The Advocate is able to provide referrals for counseling, legal services and a forensic medical exam. The non-offending caregiver is given space and time to talk openly and receive support during the forensic interview. This approach is helpful because it allows the non-offending caregiver a chance to ask questions and address the trauma in a supportive environment.
Once the forensic interview is over, the child returns to the Family Room with the Family Advocate and the non offending caregiver meets with the MDT to discuss next steps. The non-offending caregiver is given the opportunity to complete an anonymous online survey that tracks the results of the Penquis CAC. The child has the opportunity to complete a flag of courage. After that is completed, the family leaves the Penquis CAC.
262 Harlow St.
Bangor, ME 04401