Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center, also called ChicagoCAC, is a place where a team of professionals work hard to help make sure that kids and teens are safe and healthy.
We’re here to help you in a few ways.
Who will I meet?
- Receptionist – The receptionist is there to greet you when you first walk in. They know a lot about the center and the people who work here. So, if you have a question, they are a great person to ask while you wait.
- Advocate – When teenagers and kids go through difficult things, they and the adult that takes care of them may need extra help or someone to talk to about their feelings. An advocate is there to make sure that you and your caregiver have what you need to help you feel safe and to understand the steps of your visit. They can also answer questions that you may have.
- Child Protection Specialist – A social worker is someone who is here to help and works to make sure that kids and teens feel safe where they live. You may meet with them when you visit our center. They are also called a Child Protection worker.
- Forensic Interviewer – A forensic interviewer is the person who listens to what a teenager or kid has to say during the interview. They talk to a lot of different kids about their stories. Nothing you say will upset them. They are there to hear what you have to say.
- Detective – A detective is a police officer who works to make sure teens and kids are safe in their community. You may meet a detective when you visit the center. A detective can talk with teens and the person who brings them to the center to help protect them.
- Child Life Specialist – A Child Life Specialist will go over the steps of your visit, what to expect, and can answer questions. Child Life also hangs out with teens and kids in our game room where we have snacks, video games, and other activities you can do while you wait.
Sometimes teenagers and kids have an important story to tell and they need an adult to listen. When you come to our center, an adult will want to take time to get to know you better, to learn about you and what is going on in your life. This time spent talking is called a Forensic Interview.
Who You’ll Meet
A forensic interviewer is the person who listens to what a teenager or kid has to say during the interview. They talk to a lot of different kids about their stories. Nothing you say will upset them. They are there to hear what you have to say.
Where You’ll Be
A forensic interview pod is what we call the place where you will go to tell your story. It has three different rooms:
- The Meeting Room is a place where your team of professionals meet to talk about how they can help keep you safe and healthy.
- The Talking Room is a quiet place where an adult will sit down with you and listen very carefully to everything you want to tell them. The talking room is right next to the listening room. There is a special mirror between these two rooms. There are cameras and microphones in this room because the conversation you have will be recorded as part of the process
- The Listening Room – When you are in the talking room, there will be other adults who want to hear your story on the other side of the special mirror. They do this so you don’t have to tell your story over and over again, but will only tell it to one person called a forensic interviewer.
Am I in trouble?
No, you are not in trouble. The whole team is here to make sure that you are safe and to listen to the important things you have to say. Your job when you come to the center is just to tell the truth so the detective and child protection worker can make sure you are safe. The forensic interviewer has talked to lots of kids and teenagers. Nothing you say will upset them. This is a safe space for you to tell your story.
How long will I be at the Advocacy Center?
This is a hard question to answer. Sometimes teenagers and kids can be here for what feels like a long time or what feels like a short time. What is important is that we hear everything that you want and need to talk about.
What will we talk about?
The forensic interviewer just wants to get to know you and what has been going on in your life. They want to hear your story.
What if I am nervous about telling my story? What can I do?
Sometimes it can seem hard or overwhelming to talk about the difficult things that have happened to us. There are some things that can help us talk through our nervousness. We have boxes of fidgets that some kids say help. We also have a facility dog that may be able to be with you in your interview. You can ask your advocate if the dog is available when you are here.
Everyone here at Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center wants you to feel as comfortable as possible. If you still feel like you are going to be nervous, talk to your advocate or the Child Life team when you arrive. We can come up with a plan to help you.
Will my parents or caregivers be watching while I talk?
No, the adult who brings you here will wait in the family room while you talk to the forensic interviewer.
The Medical Clinic
It is important that everyone goes to the doctor. Sometimes kids and teens have something happen to them where they need to see a special doctor that helps them know their entire body is healthy. Our Medical Clinic is special in that we only work with teenagers and kids.
Who You’ll Meet at the Clinic
- Medical Clerk – The Medical Clerk will greet you when you first walk into the Medical Clinic. They will help you or the adult you came with fill out paperwork.
- The Nurse – The nurse helps the doctor throughout your visit. They will talk with you before your check up to make sure you are feeling ok and helps the doctor during your checkup.
- The Child Life Specialist – The child life specialist helps you feel as comfortable as possible during your visit to the doctor. They explain the checkup, answer your questions, and help with whatever they can. Child life is also there to hang out with you.
- The Doctor – Our doctors are special because they have studied specifically to work with teens and kids who have been through difficult things and may have been hurt. The doctor will talk with you before your checkup to get to know you better and answer your questions.
Common Questions about the Clinic
- Does a checkup hurt? Nothing during the exam should hurt, and if it ever does, the doctor and nurse want you to tell them. They will stop and change what they are doing so it does not hurt.
- Will they put anything inside my body? No. Nothing will be put inside your body during our checkup.
- Will I get a shot? Some kids and teens may need to have a blood draw and others do not. Each person’s checkup is different. One of the ways that doctors can make sure that we are healthy is by testing our blood. This lets them know if we are sick or have an infection that we may not have known about before. When you arrive at the medical clinic, the child life specialist and doctor will talk to you all about a blood draw if you need one.
- Who will be in the room with me during my check-up? The doctor and nurse are the two people that need to be in the check-up room with you. The doctor makes sure you are healthy and the nurse helps. Anyyone else is up to you. If having someone else in the room helps you feel more comfortable, we can work to make sure they are in the room with you.
- What if I am nervous? It is ok to be nervous. Many people, even adults, feel nervous about checkups or blood draws. The child life specialist is there to talk with you and help you find different strategies to help you feel more comfortable, from using fidgets, to listening to music, to deep breathing, to breaks. Our team wants you to know that your body is healthy and to feel comfortable while you are here.
- How long will I be in the doctor’s office? This is a good question and it is different for everyone. There are several different steps during your appointment and our team wants to make sure that we give you the best checkup we can. We will also make sure that you are not here longer than you need to be.
To learn more about ChicagoCAC, view our child-friendly coloring book in English or en Español.