Zoey’s Place CAC in Hancock County has received nearly $8,000 from the Children’s Justice Act Taskforce to train law enforcement and other responders in ChildFirst protocols.
“I came back from vacation and was thrilled to learn we received the grant,” says Katie Molinder, Executive Director at Zoey’s Place. “We applied earlier this year as a way to help ease the burden on agencies with tight budgets because this training can be intense.”
ChildFirst training takes place over 5 days and is usually offered twice a year in various geographic locations around Indiana. The next training date in Indiana is February 2024.
“We’re still a very new CAC,” says Molinder. “We’re ChildFirst trained here at the CAC, but there are a lot of law enforcement agencies who haven’t participated yet. Cost was a barrier. Our goal is to get one person from every law enforcement agency serving Hancock County to attend.”
ChildFirst training requires participants to attend several hours of lecture and demonstrations. A mock forensic interview with an adult actor in the role of a child also takes place, with near real-time feedback and critique being provided by other experienced trainers.
“We talk a lot about how critical training is for first responders. Most people might think about physical training, but ChildFirst training is an intense and advanced mental exercise. We want to help train law enforcement and our other multidisciplinary team partners — like prosecutors and medical professionals — so they better understand this work, the process, the model, and the value of the forensic interview,” says Molinder.
The Indiana Chapter of National Children’s Alliance provided technical assistance with the grant. “We couldn’t have done this without the Chapter’s help,” says Molinder. “$8,000 is a lot of money and this means we can help agencies — including smaller police departments in Hancock County — participate in this critical training,” says Molinder.
Over the last several years ChildFirst Indiana and the Indiana Chapter, in conjunction with additional grants and funding sources, have helped 87 of Indiana’s 92 counties train at least one person working within their jurisdiction to ChildFirst.