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Sanford Health Dakota Children's Advocacy Center:
Making a referral
Referrals must be made by a law enforcement or social services agency by calling the Sanford Health Dakota Children’s Advocacy Center (DCAC) at 323.5626 or 800.932.8758. Both law enforcement and social services representatives must be present during the interview process. If local law enforcement is unable to attend the interview, they can request assistance from BCI to attend the interview. Child Protection Services is always requested to participate in the process, even in non-caretaker situations. Their expertise in assessing family safety and their ability to answer questions for non-offending caregivers is critical to the investigation. Appointments will be made for the earliest opening for an interview, medical examination or both. Please be prepared to provide demographic information of the child, caregivers and alleged offender as well as insurance information and the child’s Social Security number. Reimbursement for services is accessed through third-party payers, grants and crime victim’s compensation funds. Families are never billed for services. Alleged Offenders are not allowed at the DCAC and cannot participate in the forensic interview.
Where will the interview occur?
nterviews are conducted at the DCAC, located at 200 E. Main Suite 301, Bismarck, N.D. The child is interviewed in a child-friendly room with one professional.
How are interviews conducted?
The forensic interviewer will talk with the child while the remaining team members observe the interview via closed-circuit television. Team members contribute to the interview process by talking to the interviewing through an earpiece and directing the interviewer to ask certain questions. All interviews are recorded. Recording helps eliminate the need for additional interviews. All recordings of interviews will be in the possession of the Law Enforcement. The DCAC does not keep recordings of interviews on site. Only investigative professionals are allowed to observe the interview; interviews usually last 30 minutes to one hour.
What do I tell my child?
It is OK to tell your child why they are coming to the center. You might say, “We are going to a safe place where kids go to talk. The person you will be seeing talks to lots of kids about all kinds of things and it is OK for you to talk with them. It is important that you tell the truth, you are not in any kind of trouble.” It is better if you do not question your child prior to the interview. If your child wants to talk about what happened, listen and be supportive. Assure your child that you will be nearby during the interview.
Who will my child talk to?
Your child will talk to a forensic interviewer. The interviewer is specially trained in talking with children about difficult subjects. Questions are asked in a non-threatening and non-leading manner. The interviewer moves at a pace that is comfortable with your child and never forces a child to talk to them.
What a caregiver should know before the interview
As the child’s parent and/or caregiver you should be prepared to spend between one and a half to two hours at the DCAC. You may need to spend additional time, depending on the number of children whom you are accompanying for interviews and if they have additional services scheduled such as a medical exam. Prior to the interview, a staff member will show you the interview room and team members will meet with you to answer any questions you may about the process. If you have any pertinent information regarding your child’s feelings, emotional/ mental development, language skills or special needs (including medication), please inform the interviewer at this time.
Can I watch the interview?
No, only those who are directly involved in the investigation are allowed to observe the interview. This is done to reduce the possible stress that can be placed on a child and to provide a neutral setting for the child and the investigation. During your child’s interview you will have an opportunity to meet with a family advocate (*). The advocate focuses on your needs and the needs of your child. They can offer support, a listening ear, make referrals and help answer questions you might have.
What happens after the interview?
Team members will meet with you after the interview to inform you of what will happen next to ensure your child’s safety and emotional wellbeing. The DCAC provides on-going advocacy (*) and counseling (*) services for children and their families. Staff and Team members also review cases on a regular basis to make sure that we are communicating effectively, sharing information and providing the best possible outcome for the child and family.
Assisted animal therapy
The DCAC has a registered therapy dog on-site. When available, Maggie greets families, spends time with children in the waiting room, sits in on forensic interviews, and joins in on individual therapy sessions. Maggie can also provide a welcome distraction while children undergo physical or sexual assault examinations. Staff will meet with the parent/caregiver to get consent prior to the children partaking in an interview with her. Click here to learn more»
Incident within 72 hours
Referrals can be made by calling the Sanford Health Children's Advocacy Center at 701-323-5626. If an alleged incident occurred within 72 hours of the report, it is crucial that the physical examination take place immediately.