Presentation on theme: "Building a Multi-Disciplinary Team in Indian Country."— Presentation transcript:
Building a Multi-Disciplinary Team in Indian Country
In a review of community-wide practices regarding child investigations, we found we were not sharing critical information, did not understand the roles of related departments, and lacked trust with other stakeholders. An outside consultant recommended the creation of an advocacy center as a best practice.
Moving police, prosecutors and CPS into the same building was easy. But getting them to work as a unified team was a long term effort. Resistance was high. Each department felt critiqued. Leaders and management did not have full buy-in.
Everyone knows everyone (not always, but often) Closed communities (continuity of historical knowledge?) Tribal policies/rules/laws can be better than federal and state (think confidentiality exceptions, etc. ) Cultural integrity
Fear of confidentiality violations Resistance to non-Indian investigators Difficult time to recruit Lack of funding/resources Lack of access to other jurisdictions information
Imagine a family youre familiar with for a minute. A family that has chronic violence and substance abuse. Maybe even prior child abuse. Now picture yourself as a new investigator, CPS or law enforcement. You get a call of unattended children. When you arrive you find a 20 month old child in a diaper alone on the porch. Inside the home, only one person is home but they appear to be sleeping soundly. Empty beer bottles around. Some baby clotting is found but no diapers, and only one bottle with what appears to be old milk inside.
Baby has a very full diaper. Upon closer inspection, baby has a cut to the lower leg, about 1 inch long. Bloody, not yet scabbed. Child has tear streaks. Three hours into the investigation, a grandmother appears. She is hostile to you, but she is sober. She doesnt want to give you any information but demands she get her grandchild. A visit to her home reveals a single wide trailer with limited furnishings and she does have heat and running water. She claims to live alone. You notice a pair of men's workboots and ask her about and she just ignores you.
Your CPS/law enforcement counterpart has no information about any of these persons. You only know that the sleeping person was the childs father. The child is not in need of medical attention once the wound is cleaned and covered. What can you do?
You have a cell phone and you are able to call your office and have some one look up the files and see this address? This dad? This grandma? This child? Or siblings? Would you? How quickly? What if you have a laptop (and you have SERVICE at your location) and you can access your agency records on the scene? Would you?
You could have your sister agencies records within a short period of time? (CPS, Probation, Police, Prosecution, maybe State or Federal arrests?) What if you could meet with a group of team members within a few hours and gather information that they all may have about this house/family that may not be in easy-to-access records?
Cell phones. (pre-program team members) Blackberry functions. (lists of entire team) Lap tops Software that tracks cases.
You learn that DAD has a long history of violent domestic violence and alcohol abuse, and has only been out of jail for a few days and has an active order of protection protecting the mother of the child? You learn that grandma has 7 felony DUI convictions, and has only been out of prison for less than a year? You learn that a sex offender who is her son lives in her trailer with her? You learn that this child was born drug-exposed and was only recently returned to the parents by the State system?
Child is forensically interviewed. Medically examined. More bruising located on other leg, which was covered by clothes. (child disclosed to nurse cord injury but no others). Bruises are from uncle using belt two days prior. Mom admits she knew after the fact but didnt do anything. Dad admits he went to far and was angry when he used the cord.
Police may be able to identify past safety concerns, possible criminal activity, known gang affiliation, etc. for house, household members, CPS can offer police information as to family dynamics, prior contacts concerns, prior victimization of the child Legal can detail what information is needed, address legal concerns, etc.
Example: Child abuse/physical abuse/excessive corporal punishment/inappropriate discipline Dad, who is care giver to three small children while mother is at school, at home with the three children in addition to moms other two kids, a 10 and 14 yr old. Dad has an alcohol problem. Kids hyper and not listening. Frustrated, dad uses a phone cord and whips five year old on leg two times leaving significant welts, bruising and a slight area of broken skin.
Joint decision: arrest dad? (conviction possible based on admission, but consider the end result? When will trial be? Will five-year old have to testify? If no arrest, can child go to the home? With what safety mechanism?) What will CPS do? What will prosecution and law enforcement seek? How can these two things work together? Will child feel punished if she is not allowed to see dad? Can police officers and other team members contribute to CPS plans of action? Does an arrest help CPS on the night of the incidnet?
In many of our communities, we lack the ability to cross-communicate quickly and accurately or sometimes even AT ALL. These types of facts are often missed in the decision making process of investigations. Multi-jurisdiction teams have even more difficulties since we often do not share access to information automatically.
What if CPS takes position that whatever happens with the criminal case is not their concern? What if criminal investigators decide that CPS will address and no criminal matter needs to be followed? Have you ever heard police didnt arrest so no crime must have been committed or he wasnt convicted of that so we cant consider it What if one agency knows of several serious concerns and the other agency doesnt find out… the child is left in danger.
Putting the child in your vehicle and taking him straight to a clean, welcoming, safe and child- friendly environment immediately. Getting him cleaned up with a bath. Surrounding him with community members who will get him some food, clean up his leg, and find some clothes. He can play in a safe place with age- appropriate toys and take a nap if he needs it.
Hes not wandering around while his father is arrested and fighting the officer. Hes not in a full diaper and no clothes. Hes not sitting in a car seat for hours. Hes not in an office, opening drawers and looking for something to occupy him. Hes not hearing anyone discuss his family history in front of him.
Locations can be hard to acquire. Ideally, not marked and not publically known. Dont need much. The basics include: quiet, safe, secure with some toys, food, diapers, etc. Could be a large dedicated office. Needs to have ability to keep eyes on the child Dont be a hypocrite. (leaving unattended, having filthy conditions or safety hazards, contributing to emotional harm by discussing case.) Consider volunteers to design, build, donate. People care about kids. They will paint, donate toys, furniture, etc.
Often children come in who are in need of a bath. Dont have extra clothes with them. Have spares on hand. Develop relationships with local stores, etc. Give them dignity. Make them comfortable. Need to have protocol for bathing. (two persons, age limits, etc.) Obviously if a sexual assault case, consult with police. Keeping snacks around. Frozen food, foods they are used to, comfortable with. Lice kits? Beware of medicating kids (diaper cream, etc.) Photo kids if possible if documenting poor care. (diaper rash, untreated medical conditions, dirty clothing, etc.) Always be aware that you are not embarrassing or shaming the child.
Another option when a center is not feasible is to have receiving homes in communities. A home that is offered by caring community members, that is clean, safe, criminal-free, and is wiling to feed/supervise/support children pending investigation outcome or placeman. Keeping kids out of offices and out of EARSHOT! Volunteer homes are given limited info as needed to care for child up to a maximum of 8 hours for example… They do not ask questions of children. Offer a training on how to simply support and love these kids. NEVER burn your volunteers. Commit to time frames, and do not take advantage. If 8 hours is the limit, have something arranged! Keep in mind that not all children are fit for such an arrangement. (children in crisis, children with medical needs, violent children, etc.)
Co-locate dedicated staff together. Builds relationships, trust, cross-training, and access to information. Keep child friendly environment. Keeps focus on the mission. Potentially have area for recording forensic interviews. Potentially have a medical exam room. (child does not have to be transported from location to location) Potentially have behavioral health persons present.
In designing the workspaces, try to encourage as much path-crossing as possible. Seeing the faces everyday. Water-cooler relationships Staffing is key- need model employees. (the duty is to the mission, not to the employee!)
Watching child Getting meals Learning from one another Someone may have a relationship with the family from a prior experience. (not to the level of conflict) Supporting one another on tough calls Sharing info not in the systems
Fire Education Probation, etc. Invite them often! Consider using their locations for meetings on occasion. When all else fails, FEED them.
The team will be held as one Model behavior, commitment, energy Support each other Weak link hurts whole team