Our forensic team is made up of a diverse group of individuals with a wide range of skills and expertise. Our goal is to find out what the child experienced and work in conjunction with the caretaker, moving forward in a way that meets the standards of the law as well as keeping the caretaker appraised of where the investigation is going. A critical aspect of our work is to support the caretaker and the child.
California law requires multiple agencies to investigate allegations of child sexual molestation. Even though the young victims may be suffering from shame, fear, and post- traumatic stress disorder, several agencies are required to interview the child. In the past agencies conducted their investigations independently.
Our longtime dream of establishing a Child Advocacy Center made up of a multidisciplinary team that coordinates their response to the reported abuse finally came to fruition in 2000. Now there is excellent coordination between agencies.
The initial step after the suspected abuse is reported is to respond to the family in a coordinated and collaborative manner. If the abuse was initiated by a person who resides in the family home, Children and Family Services will be involved. Because this violation of a child is a crime the police will always be involved. Each agency will conduct an initial intake and then an officer and social worker will schedule a time to meet with the caretaker, gathering more information and moving forward with scheduling an interview at the JPCC. The Social Worker will briefly talk with the child to assess his/her current status and ensure the child is safe from further contact with the alleged perpetrator.
If based on the child's report regarding what happened that would indicate it would be beneficial to have the child receive a physical exam by a Forensic Physician based on the nature of the acts and how long ago the last contact with the assailant occurred a forensic medical exam would be immediately scheduled.
Coming to the Jeannette Prandi Children's Center
Learning your child may have been sexually abused can be overwhelming. For your child, your most helpful response is to be calm and reassuring. Being upset, which is perfectly understandable, typically exacerbates the child's feeling of guilt and misguided responsible for what happened. They may interpret their parents' response as an indication anger at them.
Preparing your child to come to the JPCC will have a significant impact on the comfort in going: Your child will take cues from you as to whether this is a good thing to do. Especially if your child is young, it is possible to come to the Center prior to the actual interview to be introduced to the facility.
When coming for the interview, you might say: "You and l are going to the Jeannette Prandi Children's Center. It's a special place where kids talk about things that happened to them. The person you will be talking to talks to lots of kids. It's important that you share with them as much as you can about what happened to you." As a parent, you know best what to say to say to comfort and encourage your child. These are merely suggestions.
Additionally, children may be reluctant to talk about important details because they do not want to upset their parents or feel ashamed about what happened. Rest assured, the Interview Specialist has received extensive training and is sensitive to a child's needs. If you have additional questions regarding how to talk to you child about coming to the Center, feel free to contact the Project Director, Michael Grogan, Ph.D. at (415) 473-3750.
The forensic interview of your child will be conducted by an Interview Specialist. Other members of the team the Deputy District Attorney, Law Enforcement Officer, Child and Family Service Worker (if the abuse occurred in the home) the JPCC Project Director, who observe the interview through a one-way mirror. They can communicate with the Interview Specialist through a listening device in their ear.
Following your arrival, you will be given a tour of the Center, including the interview room where the interview will be conducted. Initial questions about the interview will be answered either by the Project Director or Victim Witness Advocate.
The interview is conducted with only your child and the Interview Specialist. The Deputy District Attorney, Law Enforcement Officer, and Children and Family Services Worker observe the interview through a one-way mirror. They can communicate when necessary with the Interview Specialist through a listening device in his/her ear.
Most parents would like to be present during the interview. However, in the event the case goes to court, parents may be excluded from the court room if they witnessed the interview. Also, some children may be reluctant to tell the full nature of the abuse, because they incorrectly feel responsible for what happened and they should have stopped the abuse. Also, they may not feel comfortable at this time telling the full extent of what occurred.
During the course of the interview the caretaker will sit in an adjoining room with the Victim Witness Advocate, who will answer any questions about the process that is going on and how things will proceed in the future. The Advocate's role is also to support the caretaker and help cope with the many feelings and concerns the caretaker has about their child.
The project director will stop in every once in a while to give the caretaker an update of how their child is doing.
After the interview the police officer assigned to the case the social worker,and project director will meet with the caretaker to report the findings and how things will move forward. At that time, caretakers questions are answered and advise how the caretaker will continue to appraised by those involved in the investigation.
In certain circumstances to ensure your child's safety, if it is known that your child experienced acts that needed the attention of a physician it would be important to schedule an appointment with your child's pediatrician.
Project Director Jeannette Prandi Children's Center
2 Jeannette Prandi Way, San Rafael, CA 94903
Phone: (415) 473-3750
Fax: (415) 473-5911
E-mail: Dr. Michael Grogan