IV. D-2A. Audio Taping Planned Child Interviews
IOP Effective 2/23/06
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Purpose: To provide guidance to staff in carrying out the legal mandate to audio tape planned interviews with children during the assessment of allegations of abuse and neglect.
Legal Base: Title 22 M.R.S.A. Subchapter III §4021-4. "Audio Recording of planned interviews of children. To the extent possible, the department shall audio record all planned questioning of and planned interviews with children. No later than February 1, 2003, the commissioner shall provisionally adopt rules in accordance with Title 5, chapter 375 to establish procedures for the audio recording of planned questioning of and planned interviews with children. Rules adopted pursuant to this subsection are major substantive rules as defined in Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter II-A and must be reviewed before final approval by the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over judiciary matters.
Information collected in an interview that was not audio recorded may not be excluded from use in court proceedings solely because the interview was not audio recorded."
Planned Child Interviews means an interview that the caseworker has scheduled or intends to conduct in response to a report of child abuse or neglect. At any point in the Child Welfare process (e.g. assessment, case management, rehabilitation/reunification) when a caseworker intends to interview a child about allegations of abuse or neglect, the interview must be recorded.
Introducing Children to the Recording
Recording Child Interviews in MACWIS:
The storage of the full child interview will not be easily accessible, therefore an entry related to the interview must be entered into the narrative log. This entry can summarize the interview.
At a minimum the entry must contain:
If a child makes a specific clear disclosure related to the occurrence of child abuse and neglect, the caseworker will record the question or questions that led to the disclosure.
Some Thoughts To Consider Prior To Assessing A Child’s Level Of Development For The Purposes of Maltreatment Interviews
Some Criteria To Consider When Assessing Child Credibility Following An Interview
Child Interview Introduction Examples
3-5 years old
"Hi Garret! My name is Michelle. (Some comments may be made about the environment.) I am here to talk to you and ask some questions. (Proceed to ask some neutral questions.) I also want to ask you questions about you and your family. This is really important so that I need to remember what we talk about. This machine will help me do that. I will put it here on the table. I will start it…today is Friday, July 12th. It is 9:30 AM and I am with Garrett Jones at his home in Blue Hill. Now let’s see if this machine is working."
5-10 years old
"Hello Samantha! My name is Michelle, Michelle Fortin. I have come here this morning to ask you some questions about you and your family. (More statements are made while trying to set the child at ease.) While we are together, I will be taking notes and will be taping our meeting so that I can be sure to remember the things that we talk about. This is the recorder that I will be using. I will put it right here so that I can be sure what we say can be recorded. (For a younger child, it may be necessary to further explain what recording means.) One should record the rest of the interview from this point on. The interviewer starts by recording…."today is Monday, July 16th at 9:30 AM. I am sitting with Samantha Brown at Whitefield Elementary School. Now let’s check to see if this recorder is working."
I am pleased to meet you Susan. Thank you for meeting with me. My name is Henry Cabot. I work for DHS and have come to meet with you today to talk about you and your family-what it’s been like for you since your mother came back from the hospital. I will be asking you questions to get some information about you and your family. Is very important that I remember all that we talk about. So, I will be taking notes and making a recording of our meeting.
Assessing Child Suggestibility
Practice Considerations: Parental Notification
Under Maine Law, parents are not able to determine whether or not their child’s interview will be recorded. Therefore, the caseworker will not include the fact that the interview is likely to be recorded when providing parental notification of a child interview. The parents will be informed of the recording during the first fact finding interview the caseworker has with the parents. It may be prudent to inform the parents at the end of the first fact finding portion of the parent’s interview. This is to avoid having the sole focus of the parent’s interview becoming what the child said in the interview and gaining access by the parent to the interview recording.
Parental requests for access to the interview are to be handled according to the policy (Section XIII, Case Records, Subsection B) governing parental access to Bureau records.
AN EXAMPLE OF A SUMMARY NARRATIVE LOG ENTRY OF A CHILD INTERVIEW
On this date (the date will have been previously indicated) I interviewed 12-year-old John Mathews at the Lewiston Junior high school for the purpose of completing a safety assessment. Detective James Maller from the Lewiston Police Department was present to complete a joint interview. This Interview was completed without prior parental notification.
When the initial introductions occurred, John was noticeably apprehensive and asked if he was going to get into any trouble. (He was not aware that a referral had been made.) After a normal period of engagement, John’s comfort level increased. His responses to neutral, non-abuse focused elaboration questions were very informative and free flowing. His receptive and expressive language skills were normal for his age and stage of development. Often John would take some time to reflect before answering a question. Within a short period of time, John demonstrated an excitement and confidence talking about his school experiences. When he was presented with non-abuse but focused questions about his family, John said, "I don’t like talking about James (mother’s live-in boyfriend)…he’s real rough with me and my sister". When asked, "How is James rough", John responded, " he spanks real hard and he calls us bad names". When asked to talk about all that happened last weekend, John stated, "My mom was at Grampy’s, James was in a bad mood and didn’t want us to watch TV, I asked him if I could go outside, he got up and spanked me in the face real hard, I cried, Millie (10 year old sister) told the jerk to stop, he pushed her real hard on the floor, he’s always mean, even when mom is home, I wish he’d leave." When asked what James does that is mean, John said, "he always yells calls us dinks and trouble makers, sometimes his tells my mom to shut up." John said, "we are all afraid of him, he’s worse than my dad, he (dad) never would hit us just sometimes my mom". John went on to explain how his parents were divorced, that his dad now lived in Vermont, that they didn’t see him very often.
John also disclosed that James drank a lot of beer that his mood and treatment of all the family members worsened during those times. John said that his mother had told him and Millie that they should try "not to make James mad". John told his mother that sometimes he thinks of running away to his grandparents but he doesn’t want to leave his mother and sister behind. This child reported that the best time in his life was when he and Millie were alone with their mom. They were alone for over a year. During this time John, Millie and their mom spent a lot of time together, played games, went to the movies and visited with relatives on a regular basis. That was the time that he did his best with schoolwork. John did not disclose any other type of child abuse, neglect.
John was noticeably angry, frustrated and worried about all that was happening to him and his family since James had joined the family. John did not feel hopeful that matters would improve on their own. He wished that he could do more to make it safe for Mom and his sister.
John’s disclosures related to his family and the maltreatment was very convincing and credible. It was during family focused questioning that he disclosed about emotional, physical abuse and his mother’s neglect (FTP). He provided spontaneous information and details in response to general and clarifying interviewer questioning. The only person that John had talked to about his maltreatment was his grandfather who did not ask him any questions. Upon hearing about the way John feared James and the reasons why, he referred the matter to CPS.
John expressed concern that his sister, Millie would be hesitant to talk to anyone about what was happening at their home. He was worried that his mother would be angry that he had talked to us about what James had done. John was worried how James would treat him once he was talked to about the allegations