Snowflake Place Staff
When Emma first came through our doors, I could tell she was scared. What child wouldn’t be? She was only nine years old, and two weeks ago she told her mom that a close family member had been abusing her for over a year. Her mother reported the abuse to Child and Family Services, and now they were here at Snowflake Place for the first time. I introduced myself and gave Emma a warm smile. I walked Emma and her mom to the Family Room, helped them get comfortable and told Emma that the Forensic Interviewer will be with her shortly.
The children I meet at Snowflake Place are often scared and wondering what will be happening next. As the the Forensic Interviewer, my job is to help put the child at ease and explain the process before accompanying the child to the interview room. A case like Emma’s, unfortunately, is quite common.
It’s extremely difficult for the child, and the entire family, to relive what’s happened through an interview. At Snowflake Place, the interviews take place in a soft interview room. It’s comfortable and quiet. Video and audio recording capture the entire interview for future court proceedings. It is my job as the Forensic Interviewer, to obtain a statement from the child in an un-biased and fact-finding manner.
My job as the police officer is to conduct the criminal investigation. While the interview is taking place I moniter the interview in a different room from a video feed. At Snowflake Place we have a neutral, family-friendly space, all focused on the child—it really does make a huge difference. After the interview, I meet with the family to talk to them about the next step in the investigation.
Child and Family Services
As a worker with Child and Family Services, my job is focused on the safety and protection of the child. While Emma’s being interviewed, I’m watching it from a video feed. This way there is no need to ask the child to do another interview unnecessarily. In the past, a child would be interviewed by a Child and Family Services worker and by police. Usually at different locations and on different days. The model here at snowflake place has changed all that. In Emma’s case, once her interview was complete, I met with her and her mother in the Family Room and I talked to them about safety planning and resources available.
The Victim Services role is to reduce trauma. I’m there to offer information and support regarding the court process and let the family know about the resources available to them. Being there while the interview is taking place is not only easier for Emma, it allows all of us – the police, the Forensic Interviewer, Child and Family Services, and Victim Services – to collaborate and share information. I will be there for Emma and her mother after the interview, and be their main contact going forward, wherever the journey takes them.
Snowflake Place Staff
Snowflake Place is a unique and special place. Children come first in all that we do. Our child-focused environment and team of professionals all working together under one roof lets children know that they are safe, that they have support and that they’re special and unique, too.
Emma told her story. She came forward; she told the truth. What she did took a lot of courage and it wasn’t easy. To see a smile on her face and just be a kid again, that’s why we’re all here, that’s what Snowflake Place is all about.
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