“Whenever possible, interviews should be conducted in a safe, neutral, and preferably child-friendly environment, such as a Child Advocacy Center.” National Children’s Alliance, 2003.
In 2011 the Redwood County Sheriff’s Office was awarded a $21,590 grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation to develop a Redwood County Child Advocacy Center.
The mission of the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) is to change and improve the atmosphere in which to conduct child sexual abuse interviews both for the benefit of the child and their support persons. The CAC helps ensure that these interviews are monitored, recorded and archived in the most efficient, accurate and professional manner possible. The Otto Bremer Foundation grant supplied the cost of technological recording equipment, room furnishings and anatomically-detailed dolls for the CAC. A cash donation from the Redwood Falls Early Childhood Initiative helped provide items related to the ‘child friendly’ aspect of the center. Redwood County assisted by providing and updating the physical space for the center.
The CAC, located on the second floor of the Redwood County Courthouse, consists of three areas, including a child interview area, a family waiting room, and an observation area. The child interview room creates a safe and non-intimidating environment in which to conduct child interviews. The family room provides a private and comfortable setting for families in which to wait while their child or relative is being interviewed as well as a meeting room for professionals after the interview. The family room is also being used as a waiting area for crime victims, witnesses, family members, and advocates while jury trials and other hearings take place and a place for professionals to meet with victims during the course of, or after, a trial, hearing, or sentencing. The observation room is a secure and technologically up-to-date viewing area from which law enforcement, prosecutors, and social workers can observe the interview, interact with the interviewer, and document the interview as it takes place.
While the CAC is a physical space consisting of these three areas, the core of the Center is a multi-disciplinary team consisting of professionals who come together to offer a child-friendly environment for interviews and follow-up for the child and non-offending family in sexual abuse cases. This team includes representatives from the Redwood County Sheriff’s Office, Redwood County Attorney’s Office, Child Protection workers from Redwood County Human Services, and an advocate from New Horizons Crisis Center.
Those who have worked to make this Center a reality are pleased and excited that we are able to better serve children and families in Redwood County. We truly appreciate all who helped to make it possible.
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Redwood County Child Advocacy Center