CAPMC is one of various agencies in Madera County that collectively make the Child Forensic Interview Team (acronym CFIT). The CFIT works together to investigate and provide support for cases involving children who are alleged victims of child abuse. The Madera County Child Advocacy Center (CAC), house and operated by CAPMC, is an accredited member of the National Children’s Alliance. The CFIT exists to reduce the ongoing trauma for children who are alleged victims of sexual abuse by providing evidence based best practices outlined in the National Children’s Alliance standards for child advocacy centers with accredited membership. The CFIT consists of Madera County Sheriff’s Office, Madera Police Department, Chowchilla Police Department, Madera County Probation, Department of Social Services, Public Health, Behavioral Health Services, District Attorney’s Office, and CAPMC – Victim Services and Child Advocacy Center. The Madera County CFIT Steering Committee reviews and approves the CFIT Guidelines. Our established CFIT Guidelines are to ensure cooperative and coordinated efforts between all of our team members. The goals of the CFIT are to reduce the number of interviews to which the child is subjected to, minimize the number of persons who interview the child, improve the quality and quantity of information obtained in the interview, shorten the time period between investigation and legal disposition of child sexual abuse cases, and provide immediate intervention for the purpose of protection, support services, and referrals for the child and family.
All team members who are part of the CFIT work together to investigate and provide support for cases involving children who are alleged victims of child abuse. Last year the Madera County CAC interviewed 110 children who were alleged victims of child abuse. When a child forensic interview occurs, all team members involved in the case attend the CAC to view the interview and are available to the family should they have any questions. Not only is it helpful for CAC clients to have the entire team together in one place and at one time, but it is equally useful to the team as it gives the opportunity to discuss cases with one another or obtain necessary pending information from each other. Children who are interviewed are provided information, support, advocacy, follow-up services, ongoing counseling services, accompaniment to forensic exams, and referrals to services that will promote healing for the child and family. Such services are provided from first contact to case closure allowing continuity of care. This commitment and dedication from the entire team directly results in higher quality services for children and families. As a collective CFIT, we understand that we are fortunate to have such a unique team that is wholeheartedly committed and invested in our mission and the completion of our goals. It is not uncommon for children and caregivers to share positive comments about their time at the CAC, not because of the nature or purpose of their visit, but because of the warm, nurturing, and safe environment the team establishes and maintains.