What Happens at BCAC?
BCAC provides a multidisciplinary approach to helping families through every step of the investigative process. The coordination of Baltimore City Police, Child Protective Services, Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, and our own interview and treatment staff ensures that families receive proper support to help them cope with the trauma of abuse. We provide all of our services at no cost to the families we serve and are a resource whenever needed.
How does the BCAC model work?
When suspected child sexual abuse is reported, a Police Officer, Detective and/or Child Protective Services worker are dispatched to where the child is located. They ensure that the child is out of harm’s way and collect minimal facts. The child and caregiver are transported to BCAC if a child is reported to be a possible victim or witness to a crime. BCAC works to provide an environment where children and their families feel safe and comfortable during this process. At BCAC, the child and family are assisted by a team of professionals who may include a Forensic Interviewer.
The Interviewer talks with the child about their reported experiences. Forensic Interviewers have specialized training in how to talk with children. The forensic interview is conducted one-on-one in a neutral and developmentally appropriate manner that is sensitive to the needs of the child. The interview allows the child to explain what happened in their own words. Members of the multidisciplinary team view the interview from an adjoining room via closed-circuit television. Siblings and other children in the household may be interviewed separately as well.
Following the forensic interview, the Interviewer and team members meet with the caregiver to gain their perspective on the report and basic information about the family. The team also answers any questions or concerns about the child or the case. Additionally, a family advocate may be present during this part of the interview to get to know the family and ensure that the family has a resource for concerns or treatment after the interview.
The pediatrician at BCAC specializes in pediatrics, child maltreatment, and preventive medicine. She examines children for signs of sexual abuse and also observes the child for other untreated medical conditions. Teenagers who indicate that they are sexually active are provided with information about safe sex practices and birth control, when appropriate. Medicals exams are provided at no charge to families.
Treatment and counseling services
Following the forensic interview and medical exam, the team decides with the family on a safety plan for the child and their family members, as well as follow-up treatment recommendations. Most families are referred for counseling at one of BCAC’s treatment partners. BCAC remains in contact with families to help ensure that they are receiving the services recommended. If the non-BCAC team members conclude that sexual abuse has occurred, Baltimore Police and Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office determine the next step in prosecuting the abuser. BCAC discovers facts but does not make this determination. In some cases, children are too shy or frightened to talk about abuse. When this happens, the forensic interviewer may suggest that the child immediately be enrolled in a counseling program geared toward helping abused children. Alternately, children may be invited back to BCAC to participate in an Extended Forensic Assessment which gives them an opportunity to become more comfortable telling their stories over a longer period of time. During the investigative process, it is not unusual for a parent or caregiver to reveal that they too were sexually abused as a child. Many victims never received counseling or support they needed to help them deal with and confront the abuse. BCAC works closely with organizations that serve survivors of child sexual abuse and strongly encourages parents and caregivers to utilize these resources for ongoing support.