Forensic Interviews

A primary goal of Bridgehaven is to reduce the number of times a child has to tell his/her story of sexual abuse. Bridgehaven has created a neutral home-like atmosphere for the interviews and services for abused children. Bridgehaven has, on staff, a well-trained professional who specializes in taking testimony of children using non-suggestive techniques. Having knowledgeable, neutral interviewers speaking with the children, helps to provide a more accurate, consistent account of the abuse from the child victim.

Interviews are kept to a minimum by videotaping the child's testimony. Various agencies involved in the case can review the tape as needed without requiring the child to re-tell the story. These videotaped interviews result in a more fair and accurate gathering of case information and have also helped to establish a trusting relationship between the child and the adult advocate. Bridgehaven provides services to more than roughly 100 children each year. The Center accepts referrals for forensic interviews from Child Protective Services, law enforcement, district/county attorneys and judges.


Coordinated Investigations

Bridgehaven supports and coordinates the efforts of the Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) consisting of professionals from:

  • Law Enforcement

  • Prosecution

  • Child Protective Services

In most communities, medical and mental health professionals as well as other local agency representatives serve on the MDT. In the neutral setting of the CAC, team members can collaborate on strategies that will aid investigators and prosecutors without causing further harm to the child. This innovative multidisciplinary approach significantly increases the likelihood of a successful outcome in court and long-term healing for the abused child, the most vulnerable of crime victims.


Case Tracking

Bridgehaven tracks every case from initial contact through final disposition. This is to assure that cases are not lost or dropped. Also, time has proven that sex offenders, even when not identified in an initial report, or when they are placed on probation, tend to move from one county to another, seeking new victims. Through the tracking of alleged perpetrators, alleged victims and families cases can be tied together to be sure that when offenders “strike again” the information is coordinated and those agencies needing to know will have a clearinghouse of information about prior reports.


Case Review Meetings

Maintaining open communication and case coordination among community professionals and agencies involved in child protection is a priority for Bridgehaven. To accomplish this, Bridgehaven has developed multiple contacts within the counties. Case Review Teams meet regularly to discuss child abuse cases.

The teams consist of representatives from law enforcement, medical professionals, Children's Protective Services, prosecution, medical and mental health professionals and others. During investigative and intervention processes, while maintaining their own roles, these child advocates are able to receive input from other professionals before making decisions regarding a case. As a result, more offenders are held accountable because of these coordinated procedures.

The Multidisciplinary Team collaborates to:

  • Coordinate investigations

  • Limit, when possible, the number of times each child is interviewed

  • Provide comfortable, child-friendly settings for interviews

  • Reduce the child victim's travel to investigative agencies

  • Coordinate medical and mental health services

  • Increase public awareness about the incidence and impact of child abuse


Victim Assistance & Referrals

Bridgehaven provides a myriad of services to each family including but not limited to

  • Information about a Victim's Rights. (Link to page)

  • Acting as the liaison between victims and the investigative agencies and/or the judicial system

  • Crisis Intervention.

  • Assistance/Information regarding Crime Victim's Compensation

  • Providing accompaniment to medical exams.

  • Providing accompaniment to judicial proceedings.

  • Providing referrals to community resources

Bridgehaven provides victim advocacy services as well as referrals for counseling and therapy. The hope to end the cycle of abuse--even one child at a time.


Prevention

Bridgehaven Children's Advocacy Center offers educational presentations on a variety of child related issues. The innovative curriculum is designed to teach and reinforce personal safety for children and provide informative material for educators.

All presentations are FREE of charge. Instruction is offered to area schools for teacher in-service training and for student educational formats. Age appropriate material is available for grades K-12
Presentations are also available to local philanthropic and service organizations, PTA's, parent groups, and churches.

Contact Bridgehaven Children's Advocacy Center to request presentation information.