To make an appointment with A Child’s Place, please call (412)-232-7200.

Making that first call to a person you have never met or talked to before to set up an appointment for your child to be interviewed for allegations of sexual or physical abuse may not be easy. In fact, it may be one of the more difficult things you will ever have to do. Several bits of information will be needed. Some topics will be easier to discuss than others. Here is what you can expect from that phone call.

The first contact is by telephone. Parents are referred to us by a number of different people (i.e. caseworkers, law enforcement, doctors, etc). All calls are taken and filtered through our Intake Coordinator. It is the Intake Coordinator’s job to sit and talk with you about what is going on and how we can help you deal with it all. We pride ourselves in providing thorough care and a listening ear to all families. We know that this is not an easy time in your life or the life of your child and it is our hope that we make the process go as smoothly as possible.

Some questions that will be asked include:

  • Name, birth date and social security number of the child(ren)
  • Biological parents’ names and addresses
  • Caregiver’s name, address and phone number(s), if different from the biological parent(s)
  • Medical insurance information (ID number and provider)
  • Who referred you to A Child’s Place (name and number)
  • Medical and/or mental health history of the child, if known.

After getting biographical information on the child, it is then very important for us to get a sense of what has been going on with your child that caused you to call, be it s/he told you that someone touched them, made them feel uncomfortable, or hurt them sexually and/or physically. Maybe your child hasn’t said anything at all but you have serious concerns about changes in their behavior or exposure to a known sex offender or adult materials. We truly understand that this part of the call may stir up a lot of emotions and be really hard to do. We have trained all of our staff, especially the Intake Coordinator, to be sensitive to the family’s needs and concerns and offer compassion while still giving sound advice. We will ask specific questions pertaining to the abuse like:

  • Where the alleged incidents happened (specific address, if known) so that we can then notify the right police
  • What the child disclosed specifically (details about how it happened and what was done)
  • How the child’s behavior has changed to cause concern
  • Name of the person/people that allegedly assaulted the child

It is important that we get as much information as possible from you so that we are able to serve you and your child to the best of our abilities. We will also need to make follow up calls to other agencies such as law enforcement and sometimes Children, Youth, & Families (CYF). We want to make sure that if your child comes to A Child’s Place and discloses to any sort of maltreatment that the right people are there to observe and help the process along. Law enforcement is necessary because they are the people who will file charges against the alleged offender after hearing it from the child. CYF needs to be aware if children are being neglected or abused by a person in their home caring for the child, even if that person is as young as 14. They are not going to come knocking at your door and think you’re a bad parent. They are there to help you just as everyone else is and to make sure that if services after this interview process are needed, you have someone to call.

Once the information is gathered, the proper agencies are called, and a date/time is picked for the interview. The interview process is explained to the caller right off the bat so that there are little to no surprises. The family will meet with a member of A Child’s Place who will conduct the interview of the child as well as the detective(s) and caseworker(s) who were notified by the Intake Coordinator. Law enforcement, caseworkers, and sometimes district attorneys are the only people who are permitted to observe the interviews. Parents are not permitted to observe the interviews. It is not because we are trying to keep anything from parents. It is a country-wide rule that parents do not observe. Sometimes kids might be scared to tell in front of their parents; they don’t want to hurt your feelings or make you feel disappointed in them. We create an environment for kids to be comfortable to disclose what has happened to them and tell the family what happened during the interview right after it has occurred.

Lastly, if a child comes to us and discloses to sexual and/or physical abuse, all of our staff have been told that it is important to recommend a follow up physical exam with our doctor. This exam is by no means traumatic or invasive. Children are not going to be scared or harmed. Situations will vary depending on whether or not we are dealing with physical abuse versus sexual. Sometimes an exam is recommended even if the child doesn’t disclose to any abuse. This would happen if the surrounding circumstances to that particular case are placing the child at a higher rate of risk for harm. Maybe the child is already having outward symptoms that something might be wrong medically. Just because these kids haven’t said anything doesn’t mean that it’s not a good idea to get them checked out by a doctor. The examination process will be explained to families in detail. The appointments are all at our Pittsburgh location. The exam room has a child friendly mural and again, every effort is made to make this part of the process as easy as possible on both the child and family.

A Child’s Place works closely with a number of people as part of a team to make sure that families affected by child abuse have a place for their child to come to talk about what has happened and guide families in the right direction to deal with something as difficult as this. We know that it will surely be a difficult time in not only the child’s life but yours as well and just hope that we can help you in the best way possible to keep kids safe.

To make an appointment with A Child’s Place, please call (412)-232-7200.