At Ray of Hope, a team approach is the heart of everything we do. We believe when individual child protection agencies collaborate and communicate, child abuse victims receive better treatment and ultimately have better outcomes for healing. We believe when local non-profits work together, those in need receive better support. It’s true – we can do more by working together than alone.
So who makes up Ray of Hope’s on-site team? Over the next few weeks, we are excited to introduce you to our team members and explain how their roles impact local children. These aren’t people who make headlines or stand in the limelight often. They are behind the scenes heroes doing the difficult work every single day. They are the listening ears, healing hands and comforting smiles who bring hope to hundreds of child abuse victims right here in Bartlesville every year. So let’s get to know who they are…
Kara Marts, MSW – Forensic Interviewer
What is a forensic interview?
A forensic interview is a non-leading, non-suggestive conversation that is fact finding in nature for children who present with allegations of child abuse. The interview is an investigative tool intended for law enforcement and/or child welfare investigators to determine the next steps in an investigation. In an effort to minimize trauma, forensic interviews are video recorded which often alleviates the need for additional interviews and, in some cases, court testimony.
I sit with a child and begin an age appropriate conversation in a child friendly facility. The conversation we have allows the child to disclose any abuse they have witnessed or experienced. Paper and markers are allowed during our conversation if the child wants to draw or write. Interviews are not on a time constraint, however they typically last about 30 minutes. Following the interview, investigators are given any drawings produced and copies of the interview on a DVD.
What specialized training is required for a forensic interviewer?
Forensic interviewers are required to be trained in a nationally recognized, evidence-supported Forensic Interviewing protocol. The training includes content that addresses child development, question design, implementation of protocols, dynamics of abuse, disclosure processes, cultural competency and suggestibility. The training also incorporates a practice component with a standardized review process. Successful post-test completion shows that the forensic interviewer understands the principles of legally sound interviewing. Forensic interviewers are required to participate in ongoing education and structured peer review.
What is the most difficult thing about your job?
The most difficult thing about my job is listening to such a vulnerable population, children, tell me about the horrendous ways that they have been abused. My job requires me to remain neutral and to not show a lot of emotion on my face during a child’s disclosure. It can sometimes feel difficult to keep a straight face when you hear about what that child has endured throughout their life.
What is the most rewarding thing about your job?
There are so many rewarding qualities of my job, but the most rewarding thing would be that I get to help kids feel safe enough to disclose about their abuse scenarios and am able to help them start their healing process. I get the opportunity to meet so many strong and resilient children through this job. It is rewarding and comforting to know that when we work together we can provide those children and their families with resources to continue their healing process.