What to Expect

Inside the center  DCYF reporting
Our space is designed to make victims and families feel welcome and safe. Both waiting rooms are clean, child friendly and offer confidential space out of respect for victims and families’ privacy. While the investigative team observes from a separate room, our team/observation room, they observe the forensic interview through closed-circuit television, while the victim speaks to one person, the forensic interviewer in the interview room which is quiet and calming.

What is a forensic interview?
Merrimack County Advocacy Center Forensic Interviewers are trained in National Child Advocacy Center protocols, a nationally recognized model. This specialized training covers child development and contributes to the interviewer's experience in speaking and listening to children. The forensic interview is a fact-finding conversation designed to provide the child an opportunity to talk about the reason for their visit to the advocacy center.  The forensic interviewer strives to make the child feel as comfortable as possible while gathering information to determine what may have occurred.  Questions are asked in a non-leading manner, a method of interviewing which has proven to be legally sound and defensible in court.

After the forensic interview
We encourage caregivers and trusted support people to actively listen to the victim if they want to continue to speak about their experience. No two victims will react the same, so reassure them and support them in where they are in their healing process. For more information, refer to “Helping your child from abuse.”

Why is utilizing the Merrimack County Advocacy Center for interviews best practice?

There are many benefits of utilizing the Advocacy Center model for investigations, including:

  • Use of the Merrimack County Advocacy Center minimizes the number of times a child is interviewed and limits the number of people who must directly interview a child;
  • Interviews are conducted in the child’s primary language, whenever possible.  When a forensic interviewer is unable to conduct an interview in a child’s primary language an interpreter will be requested to assist.
  • The Merrimack County Advocacy Center helps coordinate services for the child(ren) and families, and;
  • Parents and caregivers are able to meet all of the professionals involved with the child(ren) and provided with an opportunity to ask questions to all team members.
  • Upon conclusion of an interview, families can continue to receive follow-up support provided by Merrimack County Advocacy Center staff.