Forensic Interviews

A forensic interview is a structured conversation with a child intended to elicit detailed information about a possible event(s) that the child may have experienced or witnessed. The purposes of a forensic interview are:

  • To assess the child's safety
  • To obtain information from a child that may be helpful in a criminal investigation
  • To obtain information that will either corroborate or refute allegations or suspicions of abuse and neglect
  • To assess the need for medical treatment and psychological care

A forensic interview is conducted at the Child Advocacy Center when there has been a report to law enforcement or Child Protective Services that the child may have been a victim of sexual or physical abuse or when a child may have witnessed a violent crime.


Forensic interviews at the Child Advocacy Center are conducted by our trained specialists or by one of the trained Child Protective Services or criminal investigators. The forensic interviewer meets one on one with the child while investigators and a Collins Center advocate watch in the observation room. Forensic interviewers are trained to obtain information in a way that is child-friendly, non-leading, and defensible in court. The forensic interviewers routinely attend ongoing professional training and participate in peer review to ensure high quality interviews and ensure best practice. 

Questions regarding forensic interviews can be directed to Rhoda Miller, Crisis Response Coordinator and lead interviewer. | 540-432-6430

Preparing Your Child for a Forensic Interview


  • Tell your child she/he will be visiting a safe place to talk with a person whose job it is to talk with kids and young adults.
  • Be sure your child is fed and well rested.
  • Give your child permission to talk about anything with the interviewer. Let her/him know they will not be in trouble for anything they talk about.
  • Allow your child to bring a comfort item if it would be helpful.


  • Ask your child questions about what happened.
  • Tell your child what to say.
  • Promise rewards or treats for talking with the interviewer.
  • Ask your child why they didn't tell you, or why they didn't tell you sooner.



  • Remain as neutral and calm as possible when talking with your child.
  • Be aware of your words and actions; show interest in what your child is communicating and do not react with horror, shock, or indifference.
  • Don't introduce names of possible offenders or possible types/acts of abuse.
  • Listen to what your child says, but do not ask for further details.
  • Do not record your conversation with your child.


  • Allow your child to talk about what happened in their own way and time.
  • Communicate to your child that you believe what she/he is telling you.
  • Reassure your child it is not her/his fault, nor are they in trouble.