What is the Children’s Interview Center?
The Department of Family and Children’s Services of the Social Services Agency of Santa Clara County, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, and the San Jose Police Department have jointly developed a multi-disciplinary interview protocol in cases of sexual abuse, severe physical abuse, or severe neglect of a child.
The Child Interview Center is comprised of a multi-disciplinary interview team that responds to both sexual and physical abuse investigations. The purpose of the center is to reduce the number of persons who interview the child to the very minimal number necessary to conduct criminal and dependency investigations and prosecutions. These investigations involve the cases in which the alleged perpetrator is living in the same home with, or has direct access to the victim. The assigned social worker, on-call deputy district attorney, and police investigator (MDI team) coordinate the scheduling of the interview, which takes place at the Children’s Interview Center, located at 777 North First Street in San Jose. The Children’s Interview Center is available to all law enforcement agencies in Santa Clara County at (408) 277-5688.
Who Will Interview The Child?
A police officer trained in child development and child interviewing techniques will interview the child. The officer is sensitive to the child’s emotional needs and recognizes when the child needs to take a break. The goal is to help the child be as comfortable as possible. The assigned deputy district attorney and social worker will monitor the interview.
Is The Interview Recorded?
The child’s interview will be video taped and kept by the police agency doing the investigation. The tape is evidence in the child abuse investigation. Only professionals directly involved in the case will review the tape so the child doesn’t have to be subjected to repeated interviews.
What Goes On During The Interview?
Because the child’s case is in the investigative stage, only those professionals directly involved with the case can observe the interview. They must be allowed to freely and objectively discuss the case. The investigator and/or social worker will be available afterwards to answer any questions.
How Long Will The Interview Take?
Usually the interview process will take about forty-five minutes. The time needed to comprehensively interview the child depends primarily on the needs of the child as well as the time it takes to gather the forensic information necessary to tape a complete interview.
Is The Interview Confidential?
Absolutely. Only staff directly involved with the child, the investigator, social worker and the attorney prosecuting the case will have the opportunity to review the tape. The only other access to the tape is by court order. This is done to ensure that no unauthorized copies will be made.
What Happens After The Interview?
If necessary, a physical examination by a specially trained medical doctor can be arranged. Further investigation will be conducted and the case will be referred to the District Attorney’s Office to determine if criminal charges will be filed.
What Services Are Available For The Child?
The Children’s Interview Center Coordinator is a Victim Witness Assistance advocate and is available to provide support and referrals for the child. This may include emergency assistance, compensation, orientation to the criminal justice system, and updated status on the case.