What To Expect
Coming to the Kids’ HOPE Center can be daunting to both children and families. We hope the following information helps prepare you and your child to have a comfortable experience and a positive outcome :
Preparing Your Child
Let your child know about the appointment in advance. Your child may or may not understand the purpose of this meeting. Assure your child that you’re going to a safe place, where new friends want to talk with the child and make sure the child is healthy and safe. You can tell your child the appointment will include no shots or pain.
When you arrive at the center, our friendly team members will introduce themselves to you and your child, briefly explaining the appointment process. You’ll need to sign a consent form. A Kids’ HOPE Center advocate will help you fill out paperwork, including a social and medical history, and answer any questions you have.
After that, you will remain in the waiting area while your child is interviewed by our forensic specialist. We’re happy to discuss any questions or concerns you have about this interview. Our goal is to make the process as easy and comfortable as possible for you and your child. Your child can stop the interview at any time and won’t be forced to answer unwanted questions.
A trained professional will ask your child non-leading, non-threatening questions following the Oregon Child Forensic Interviewing Guidelines. Other team members, such as law enforcement and child welfare professionals, will monitor the interview from a different room. Only one person will ask your child questions. The interview is recorded.
Program interviewers have experience talking with children of all ages. They will adapt the interview to your child’s specific emotional, developmental and behavioral needs. Your child will never be forced to talk if he or she is not comfortable. The interview can be stopped at any time if the child wishes to not continue.
Depending on details of the case and what your child discloses, your child may be referred for a medical appointment. A pediatrician will explain the exam so your child will know what to expect.
Your child will be given choices throughout the exam, with the encouragement to ask questions about it. Children are looked at from head to toe, but we never force children go participate in any part of the exam that they choose not to.
Sometimes an assessment of your child’s genital area is required, particularly if sexual abuse is suspected. The pediatrician will not use any instruments to touch your child or hurt the child in any way.
The exam is very different from the routine pelvic exams performed on adult women. A lighted magnifying device called a colposcope is used to assess injuries, but it never touches your child. Pictures taken during this exam may be used as evidence in your child’s case if it goes to court.
You will be invited to speak with the evaluation team before leaving. The team members will explain what they learned during the interview and/or physical evaluation. You will be given the opportunity to ask questions and express concerns. Reports from the medical evaluation and the forensic interview will be sent to the approved community professionals involved in your child’s case. With permission, we may refer you to see your child’s medical provider and also make recommendations for therapy.
Our services are always offered at no cost to you and your family. Your insurance may be billed to help offset medical costs, but these expenses will not be billed to you.
Child and Family Support
Kids’ HOPE Center is part of a multidisciplinary team of agencies and care providers in the county. Though we currently don’t offer any in-house therapy or support, we can refer you to agencies that do. We understand that when a child has experienced abuse, the family involved also must cope with what has happened. If your family needs shelter, food, or therapy, we encourage you to share this information with the assigned family advocate, so that we can help direct you to the appropriate resources.
The Legal System
Whether a child abuse investigation leads to prosecution depends on details of the individual case. Whenever a child abuse case has a potential criminal component, local law enforcement refers the case to the county District Attorney’s Office, which decides whether the case should be prosecuted or dismissed.
Open-ended, non-leading questions are asked during the forensic interview of your child. For that reason, recordings of the interview may be used as evidence in court, along with any information gleaned from medical assessment of the child.
The legal process is different in every situation. The Kids’ HOPE Center team and our community partners will work hard to help prepare you and your child for what to expect concerning your specific case.