Forensic Interviews

When allegations of child abuse and neglect are made it is vital to quickly determine the validity of each allegation to determine the need for protective measures for the child and possibly the community. Western PA CARES for Kids was established to lessen the trauma experienced by children with the use of a special interview process that provides a trained forensic interviewer. A forensic interviewer is specially trained to conduct a neutral and non-leading DV-R recorded interview in a child-focused manner. The investigative team or MDT observes the interview from another room with the use of a monitor. This allows the team to collaboratively work together to meet each child’s unique needs.

Victim Support

Western PA CARES for Kids works with several victim service agencies through the multidisciplinary team process and each agency provides different services for the victim and their non-offending family members. Western PA CARES for Kids provides a Family Advocate to help with support.

The Victim/Witness Coordinators are based out of the District Attorney’s office and they are the primary contact for the family throughout their case, providing information about case status, court preparation, court accompaniment, assistance in filing for restitution for costs associated with the crime like medical or counseling expenses and victims’ rights services.

When there are allegations of physical abuse that involve a family member as the possible offender, our local domestic violence program Crossroads Project provides assistance to victims through free supportive counseling, court accompaniment and assistance in filing for protection from abuse orders.

Medical Evaluations

Western PA CARES for Kids has specially trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners(SANE) on site the day of the interview. The SANE nurse conducts medical evaluations, consults with non-offending family members and collects forensic evidence when available. Medical exams can provide additional evidence for prosecution purposes. An exam can also ensure the health and well-being of the child. It can reassure the child and family that everything is okay with his/her body. It can also help link the child and family to other necessary services and resources. The SANE nurse is also a member of the multidisciplinary team and provides much needed medical information to the team efforts.

Mental Health

Referrals are made to agencies who provide Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) for mental health services.