DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

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Handbook 13: Cross Program Protocols
13-4  Multi-Disciplinary Interview (MDI)
Cross Program Protocols
13-4  Multi-Disciplinary Interview (MDI)

Reference Points

Overview
Background
Criteria for an MDI
Preliminary Interview
Coordination Among Agencies
Differential Response
Time Frames for Scheduling an MDI
Child Interview Center (CIC)
Child Interview Specialist
In-Depth Interview
Social Workers' Roles
Communication between Social Worker and Law Enforcement Agency
Contact Numbers for an MDI


Reference Points
Effective Date: TBA
Last Updated: 12/05/05
 Legal Basis:
PDF Standing Court Order for Sharing Information between DFCS and Law Enforcement Agencies
Popup Window Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) § 300 and 301
 CWS/CMS Forms:
bullet Service Management Section: Contact Notebook
bullet Referral Management Section: Investigative Narrative


Overview  

Whenever possible, child victims of intra-familial sexual abuse and severe physical abuse and neglect are interviewed by a Multi-Disciplinary Interview (MDI) team composed of professionals from the Office of the District Attorney, San Jose Police Department and the Social Services Agency Department of Family and Children's Services (DFCS). An MDI protocol was developed among the three agencies to coordinate investigations of potential crimes involving child victims, when a juvenile court petition and criminal charges are likely to be filed. A Child Interview Center (CIC) has been designed for the purpose of avoiding multiple interviews among the various agencies involved with the event.

All law enforcement agencies in Santa Clara County may use the CIC for investigative interview purposes.  A Standing Court Order, dated 1/13/03, allows for the sharing of information between law enforcement agencies and the DFCS.

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Background  

The MDI protocol was adopted in 1993 in response to a report issued by the 1991-1992 Santa Clara County Grand Jury. That report addressed concern for the number of interviews that a child sexual abuse victim had to undergo, when there were dependency and criminal proceedings. Multiple interviews contributed to the trauma suffered by child sexual abuse victims. The MDI protocol was developed to create the least intrusive, best-coordinated, and most effective system possible for interviewing child sexual abuse victims. In 1998, the procedure was extended to include child victims of serious physical abuse and neglect.

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Criteria for an MDI  

MDI interviews are conducted for children 13-years-old and younger. Children 14 years or older can participate in an MDI or consent to be interviewed at the police department.


In general, the MDI guidelines apply to cases of:

  • Sexual abuse
  • Severe physically abuse
  • Severe neglect

in which:

  • The perpetrator is living in the same home with or has direct or recurring access to the child victim, and
  • There is the likelihood of a dependency investigation and a criminal investigation.
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Preliminary Interview  

When an allegation of child sexual abuse or severe physical abuse or neglect comes to the attention of a social worker, the social worker conducts a preliminary interview only. The preliminary interview is the initial discussion of sexual or severe physical abuse or neglect with a child and is usually conducted by an Emergency Response (ER) social worker, Continuing social worker, or beat officer. The initial disclosure made to a mandated reporter is also considered as the preliminary interview. The purpose of the preliminary interview is to screen those cases in which further investigation is warranted. It is not intended to gather evidence for dependency action or criminal prosecution.  

The essential information gathered in the preliminary interview answers the following questions:

  1. Do elements of child sexual abuse exist?
  2. What was the date and location of the occurrence?
  3. Is the child still in jeopardy?

In conducting the preliminary interview, the social worker:

  • Interviews the reporting party and all other parties who have information related to the abuse.
  • Speaks with the child only to determine the possibility of sexual abuse.
  • Tells the parties that the specific questions regarding the abuse will be asked by a member of the MDI team.
  • Explains to all other parties the purpose of the MDI.
  • Documents all interviews in the Contact Notebook, including: the date and time of the interviews; parties present at all interviews; and the names, addresses and telephone numbers of the child, family and all witnesses.
    • The social worker documents only facts and avoids opinions about the persons interviewed or comments regarding the truth of the allegations.
    • If the investigation is conducted by an Emergency Response social worker, the documentation is later entered by the social worker into the CWS/CMS Investigative Narrative.

In the event the child discloses to the social worker before a law enforcement officer arrives, the social worker must be prepared to describe the disclosure to the officer so that the child does not have to repeat the details of the assault.

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Coordination Among Agencies  

The DFCS, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office and the investigating law enforcement agencies have developed a coordinated response.

  • Each agency designates staff who will be available Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8 a.m.-5 p.m. for assignment of an MDI referral/case .
  • Staff from the agency that receives the report/referral will notify the other two agencies.
  • Staff designated to respond to an MDI referral/case will be available to respond within 15 minutes for the purpose of scheduling an in-depth interview (MDI) at the Child Interview Center (CIC).
  • If an MDI report/referral is received After-Hours, the agency receiving the report/referral is responsible for notifying the other two agencies as early as possible Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
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Differential Response  

Though a protocol exists, there are a variety of situations that result in varying coordination efforts among the MDI team. The social worker is flexible in responding to each situation. Below are examples of situations in which a social worker may find himself/herself and an example of how the social worker may respond.

  1. The ER social worker is at the scene with the law enforcement officer, and the child is placed in temporary custody and transported by the ER social worker to the Assessment Center.
    Response:
    • Dependent Intake (DI) social worker is assigned the case.
    • DI social worker identifies the case as an MDI case within 48 hours of the child being placed into temporary custody.
    • DI worker calls the DA and law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over the case and participates in coordinating or advocating for an MDI.

  2. ER social worker is at the scene with the law enforcement officer, and the law enforcement officer elects to conduct the MDI before deciding whether or not to place the child into temporary custody.

    Response:

    The ER social worker may not transport a child who is not placed into temporary custody; in this instance, the law enforcement officer must transport the child to the Child Interview Center.

    • The ER social worker goes to the CIC to observe, participate in and document the MDI for DFCS purposes.
    • If the child is released and not placed into temporary custody, the social worker may not transport the child home.
    • If the child is placed into temporary custody after the MDI, the social worker may transport the child to the Assessment Center.
  3.  
  4. The ER social worker is at the scene with the law enforcement officer, and the officer elects to conduct the MDI interview immediately upon placing the child into temporary custody and before transporting the child to the Assessment Center.

    Response:

    • The ER social worker goes to the CIC to observe, participate in and document the MDI for DFCS purposes.
    • The ER social worker may transport the child to the CIC, because the child has already been placed into temporary custody.
    • A DI social worker is assigned the case the following day and uses the information provided by the MDI team reports, including the CWS/CMS Investigative Narrative, to prepare the Initial Hearing and Jurisdictional/Dispositional Court Report.
     
  5. The law enforcement officer brings the child to the Assessment Center without DFCS involvement.  

    Response:

    • A Dependent Intake (DI) social worker is assigned the case.
    • The DI social worker identifies the case as an MDI case within 48 hours of the child being placed into temporary custody.
    • The DI worker calls the DA and law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over the case and participates in coordinating or advocating for an MDI.
     
  6.   The DI or Continuing social worker is the person to whom new facts are disclosed.

    Response:

    • The DI or Continuing worker immediately makes a Child Abuse Report by calling the Child Abuse and Neglect Center (CANC) 299-2071 followed by written report within 36 hours.
    • The Screening social worker makes a cross report to police.
    • The DI or Continuing social worker calls the DA and law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over the case and participates in coordinating or advocating for an MDI.

  7. Sexual abuse or severe physical abuse or neglect referral is made to the CANC on a case open to a DFCS social worker (connected case).

    Response:

     
  8. A law enforcement agency calls DI control clerk at 369-4090 to say a social worker is needed to participate in an MDI for a child already in temporary custody.   The DI control clerk forwards the message to any available DI supervisor for assignment, if the case has not already been assigned.
    Response:
    • The DI social worker responds to CIC to observe and document the MDI for DFCS purposes.
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Time Frames for Scheduling an MDI  
Case Type Case Parameters MDI Scheduling
Sexual Abuse
  • The child is in temporary custody or
  • The suspect is in custody
Within 1 judicial day
Sexual Abuse
  • The child is not in temporary custody and
  • The case involves joint investigation by law enforcement and DFCS
Within 5 judicial days
Severe Physical Abuse or Neglect
  • The child is placed in temporary custody and
  • Within 48 hours, a determination is made by the social worker, DA and law enforcement to schedule an MDI
Within 5 judicial days
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Child Interview Center  

The Child Interview Center is located at 777 N. 1 St., Suite. 320, San Jose, CA 95110.  It is jointly operated by the San Jose Police Department, the District Attorney's Office and the DFCS. The Center is sometimes able to provide a trained child interviewer for any social worker or law enforcement agency in Santa Clara County requesting to use the CIC for a Multi-Disciplinary Interview. However, law enforcement agencies are encouraged to provide trained interviewers from within their own agency. The CIC can also be used as a neutral setting for any type of interview a social worker or law enforcement officer wants to have taped. Social workers consult with County Counsel prior to scheduling a taped one-on-one interview with a child.  

The operating hours of the CIC are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. The CIC coordinator can be reached at (408) 277-5688.

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Child Interview Specialist  

A Child Interview Specialist is selected from a panel of trained child interviewers from the San Jose Police Department or from the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the case. The selection of the interview specialist is based upon the special needs of the child.
The interview specialist:

  • Conducts the in-depth interview of a child in an MDI case for any Santa Clara County law enforcement agency.
  • Is the only person who conducts the in-depth interview.
  • Is readily available to the child and other professionals handling related cases, in order to address issues regarding the in-depth interview.
  • Testifies in related court proceedings.
  • Is available to conduct any follow-up interviews.
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In-depth Interview  

The in-depth interview, also known as the MDI, refers to all discussions with the child subsequent to the preliminary interview about the sexual abuse or severe physical abuse or neglect. A specially trained child interviewer selected to meet the special needs of the child conducts the in-depth interview.

After the in-depth interview, there are no further interviews with the child regarding the sexual abuse or severe physical abuse and/or neglect, except the minimum required for a risk assessment by the social worker. Up until the point where the child may have to be prepared to give testimony, all questions regarding the child's statement should be directed to the Interview Specialist.
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Social Workers' Roles  

As members of the MDI team, the social workers' role is to:

  • Assess the risk to the victim and siblings remaining in the home.
  • Provide immediate intervention services and other needed services.
  • Complete documentation in the CWS/CMS Investigative Narrative and Contact Notes.
  • Complete a cross report to DOJ, if a report has not been made and criteria for reporting is met.
    • DOJ requires that the suspect be interviewed.
    • If the suspect is unavailable or unwilling to be interviewed, the social worker must document on the Child Abuse Investigation Report (SS8583) that an attempt to interview the suspect was made and the reason why the interview was not completed.
     
  • File any necessary dependency action and, within seven (7) calendar days after the in-depth interview, prepare the required Jurisdictional/Dispositional Court Report.
  • Work together with the MDI team to reach decisions that are in the best interest of the child.
  • Provide the needed support and coordination of services for the child and family.
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Communication Between Social Worker and Law Enforcement Agency   Communication between the social worker and the investigating law enforcement agency is of critical importance. Detectives investigate the criminal charges in the case.  The social worker keeps the detectives informed of the allegations of the 300 Petition and the contents of the Initial Hearing and Jurisdictional/Dispositional Court Reports. The sharing of sensitive information by the social worker with parties other than law enforcement early in the investigation may compromise the criminal investigation. However, parents do receive copies of the court reports at the court hearings.  Any potential conflicts are referred to the social work supervisor.
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Contact Numbers for an MDI  
  • Child Interview Center (CIC) – 277-5688
  • District Attorney's (D.A.) Office (General Number)– 299-3099
  • Dan Nishigaya, D.A.- Physical Abuse of Children and Elders (PACE) PACE Unit – 792-2543
  • Victoria Brown, D.A. – Sexual Assault Unit –792-2721
  • Coleen Kohtz – DFCS/Law Enforcement Liaison – 975-5364
  • SJPD Sexual Assault Unit (SAIU): 277-4102

      PDF Police Jurisdiction Contact Numbers

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Other References  
bullet2 CANC: Determining a Response to a Referral
bullet2 Reporting to the Department of Justice (DOJ)
PDF Police Jurisdictions- Santa Clara County
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