CALICO conducts interviews with toddlers, children, adolescents, and adults with developmental disabilities who have suffered abuse or neglect. A skilled child interview specialist asks questions that are developmentally appropriate, non-leading and intended to obtain a clear and detailed account of the abuse. Interviews take place in a welcoming and supportive environment, are video recorded, and observed live by a multi-disciplinary team consisting of a detective, child welfare worker, and prosecutor. The team uses information gleaned from the interview to determine if a child is safe, a crime has been committed, a licensing facility is adequately protective, and/or an arrest needs to be made.
CALICO facilitates a unique partnership among twenty-nine agencies to provide a comprehensive response to child abuse. The collaborative team is guided by the Alameda County Child Abuse Protocol, which details how the agencies work together to achieve the best outcomes for victims and their families. Through monthly program advisory committee meetings and in-depth review of selected cases, CALICO and its partners ensure that lines of communication are open across agencies, and cases are handled in the most effective and sensitive manner.
Family Support Services
Child abuse affects the entire family and can lead to reactions of confusion, pain, and shame by those close to the victim. CALICO’s family resource specialists, (skilled mental-health clinicians), work closely with parents, grandparents, and other family members to address those feelings and questions that arise. By providing emotional guidance, support, and referrals for community-based services, CALICO facilitates healing for all members of the family. The family resource specialists follow up several times after the family’s initial visit to CALICO to help each family surmount any obstacles they encounter while working their way towards healing.
CALICO conducts dozens of trainings throughout the year for hundreds of police officers, child welfare workers, therapists, attorneys, teachers, and other professionals focused on the health and welfare of children. Primary training topics include multi-disciplinary child abuse investigations and the art of interviewing children. CALICO’s training coordinator also facilitates specialized trainings upon request, such as best practices for first responders (including patrol officers and child welfare investigators), mandated reporting requirements for child-serving professionals, and effective multi-disciplinary response to commercially sexually exploited children or drug-endangered children (who are living in households where drugs are sold or manufactured).
In addition, CALICO holds an annual Collaborative Training, an all-day event attended by up to 200 professionals. Past topics have included resiliency for child-abuse professionals who are at risk of vicarious trauma and burnout, what sex offenders can teach us about protecting children, and cultural considerations in child-abuse investigations.
CALICO’s outreach staff regularly meets with civic, community, faith-based, and student groups to raise awareness about abuse, share information about services available to victims, and motivate community members to become more engaged with CALICO. Community volunteers assist with CALICO events and put their unique talents to use on CALICO’s behalf organizing blanket-making parties and toy drives, securing corporate sponsorships from their employers, volunteering on the board of directors, and spreading the word about CALICO’s services, to name just a few.
The professional forensic interviewers at CALICO do an excellent job in helping the child begin to cope with what's happened. We at the DA's Office often use the CALICO experience as an anchor and point of reference to make the child feel safe, protected, and important.
—Glenn Kim, Deputy District Attorney, Child Sexual Assault Unit
Alameda County District Attorney's Office
CALICO is an invaluable resource. The organization helps with child abuse investigations by coordinating everybody in one spot. CALICO makes it easy for law enforcement, the child welfare worker, and the district attorney to share concerns and questions by providing one central location to conduct one quality interview.
—Sgt. Kurt Schlehuber, Criminal Investigations Unit
Pleasanton Police Department