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 only 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 told Emma she was in a safe place. I walked Emma and her mom to the Family Room, I told Emma she had nothing to worry about and we were all there for her.
The children I meet at Snowflake Place are usually surprised that I’m not wearing a police uniform. Being in plain clothes helps put the child in a more relaxed state and minimizes stress. A case like Emma’s, unfortunately, is quite common where it is a family member that’s being accused of abuse. 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 soft interview room. It’s comfortable and quiet. Video and audio recording capture the entire interview for future court proceedings. It’s my job, and the job of the Forensic Interviewer, to obtain a statement from the child in an un-biased and fact-finding manner. At Snowflake Place, we have a neutral, family-friendly space all focused on the child. It really does make a huge difference.
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 is 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, the child would be interviewed by child and family services 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.
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 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. Our staff, this incredible multidisciplinary team, all under one roof, it 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 as she left and just be a kid again…That’s why I’m passionate about this place. That’s why we’re all here. That’s what Snowflake Place is all about.
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