When an active investigation involving the Department of Children and Family Services or law enforcement has begun due to the disclosure of or suspected abuse of a child, a forensic interview should be conducted. The forensic interview follows the nationally accredited Child First approach, and is conducted by a trained and experienced Forensic Interviewer. The interview is facilitated by Shining Star Children's Advocacy which offers a comfortable and safe setting for the child to share their experience. Referrals for forensic interviews are made by representatives of DCFS and or law enforcement. After the forensic interview is complete, members of the multi-disciplinary team, which consists of liaisons from Shining Star CAC, the State's Attorney's Office, DCFS, law enforcement, and medical and mental health providers meet with and communicate closely with the non-offending caregivers of the child victim. Shining Star CAC's Family Advocate continues to work closely with the non-offending caregiver and child to assess the needs of the family and provide referrals for medical, mental health, and other community services. In addition, the Family Advocate remains well informed of the judicial proceedings of each individual case, and offers support throughout the process.
Recovering from the emotional and psychological effects of abuse takes time, and often help from others. Victims of abuse and their families find a significant amount of healing and empowerment through professional therapy and counseling services. Depending upon the child and the individual case, counseling may or may not be necessary. If counseling is needed, Shining Star can arrange and provide counseling services to the child and non-offending family members. Shining Star offers a comfortable setting where therapy services are provided. The course and type of counseling a child may receive depends upon a number of factors, but common issues often explored include crisis, fear, guilt, sadness, anger, feelings of betrayal, and loss of trust. Shining Star covers the cost of the therapy or counseling so there is no cost to the child’s family.
Depending upon the individual case, a forensic medical examination may be required. The purpose of the medical exam of suspected abuse is the same as it is for any pediatric patient: to assess the physical, mental and safety status of the child. Through the use of a thorough head-to-toe exam, physical evidence resulting from the alleged acts may be found, and detailed evaluations and photo documentation of pertinent areas are made. Shining Star’s special medical room, like the rest of the facility, is child-friendly and comfortable. Examinations are performed by a physician who has been specially trained in the detection and treatment of child sexual and physical abuse.
There is no cost to the child’s family for the medical exam.
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