HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. – To ensure that child victims of sexual assault or abuse are protected during the investigation process, state Rep. Fred Crespo, D-Hoffman Estates, led the effort to establish the right for children to have their forensic interview conducted by interviewers from an accredited children’s advocacy center.
“After experiencing a traumatic event like sexual assault or abuse, it is vital that forensic interviewers use a trauma-informed, child focused approach to not traumatize the child,” said Crespo. “Staff and personnel at Children Advocacy Centers are certified and trained to interview child victims in a developmentally appropriate and culturally sensitive ways to appropriately obtain information regarding the investigation.”
House Bill 3462 gives every child that is a victim of sexual assault or abuse the right to have their forensic interview conducted by an interviewer from an accredited children’s advocacy center serving the child’s jurisdiction. This law solidifies the right of children to have a trauma-informed interviewer from an advocacy center lead their interview and establishes that investigating agencies must provide this option when possible. With the expertise of an interviewer from an advocacy center, children are less likely to go through multiple interviews and will avoid having to recall traumatic details of the event more than once.
“Before children’s advocacy centers, children who experienced sexual abuse and other extreme trauma often had to tell their story multiple times to multiple people. Forensic interviews are conducted using techniques that are developmentally appropriate for children and are designed to be non-leading, non-judgmental, and non-traumatizing,” said Char Rivette, the Executive Director of Chicago Children’s Advocacy Centers. “They are key pieces of evidence that law enforcement and DCFS can use to make arrests, create safety plans, protect children, and ensure offenders are held accountable, and in a CAC’s trauma-informed, child-friendly environment they generally happen only once. I’m proud that with the passage of HB 3462, every child will have access to this incredible tool for healing and justice. It’s a victory for everyone who cares about child welfare in Illinois.”
There are 40 Children’s Advocacy Centers in Illinois that have served over 14,000 kids and their families in this past year. Children’s Advocacy Centers of Illinois coordinates and provides comprehensive response to child abuse in Illinois, specializing in the most child-friendly approaches in investigation and treatment of child abuse. Crespo served on the Children’s Advocacy Center of North & Northwest Cook County.
“Child victims of abuse have the right to be heard and the passage of HB 3462 ensures that right for all children in Illinois. The passage of this law ensures that all children have access to the best possible response to allegations of child abuse which includes well-trained, trauma informed, professional investigators and treatment providers. Child abuse investigations coordinated through the CAC make a difference. They are more effective in holding offenders accountable, they are cost efficient, and most importantly; kids who are seen at a CAC are four times more likely to receive vital mental health, medical and follow up services than those that don’t,” said Kim Mangiaracino, the Executive Director of Children’s Advocacy Centers of Illinois. “The passage of this law is a huge win for them and us as Illinoisans. Thank you to all that supported this key piece of legislation.”
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