OIS received funding in 2015 to start a Mobile Unit Facility to serve the rural areas in Oklahoma. Of the 77 counties in Oklahoma, there are approximately 31 counties in the western part of state that will have trouble getting the child victim to a Child Advocacy Center. Most child abuse victims and their families would need to travel approximately 1 to 4 hours to get to the nearest child advocacy center.
The Mobile Unit Facility is an interviewing facility providing a culturally sensitive and child friendly environment. It provides the State of Oklahoma with the unique ability to have a fully operational Forensic Interviewing Team on site anywhere in the state. The intent is to assist local investigators by providing a team of specially trained forensic interviewers with the ability to respond to locations reporting alleged crimes against children. This is especially important when the potential for multiple victims exists.
The Mobile Unit Facility would provide a comfortable and non-threatening environment for children and other persons to be interviewed, while offering the investigative team a comprehensive facility for remote monitoring and recording of all interviews. In addition, as a mobile interview platform, the Mobile Unit spares victims and witnesses the inconvenience, embarrassment and intimidation of traveling to a law enforcement or DHS facility.
Benefits of the Mobile Unit Facility:
The ability to provide increasing services to underserved child victims and their families and provide local investigators with a forensic interviewing expert, specifically trained in interviewing crimes against children helps to:
- Reduce a child’s trauma
- Minimal exposure of child victims to law enforcement environment
- Ensure that children and investigators do not have to travel long distances to receive services
- Provide prompt and ongoing services that are tailored to a child’s needs and family situation
- Empower non‐offending parents to protect and support their children throughout the intervention process and beyond
- Sparing law enforcement agencies with limited personnel the expense and time of escorting a child to a forensic interview
- Provide services that are more available and more easily accessible to all underserved community members
Closed Circuit capability for children to testify from the Mobility Unit:
Closed-Circuit Television and fiber optic cable making passible to have audio/visual two way from the Mobile Unit to the Court House or another location.
The Mobile Unit Child/Family Advocate also assist with court preparation for the child and the family, working directly with the local County Attorney. In some instances, the Child/Family Advocate may be the only comfort person in the court room for the child when they testify.
Child and Family Advocacy:
The Mobile Unit Child/Family Advocacy services are provided to guardians and children who participate in forensic interviews. These services are designed to give support and education to care givers.
The Child/Family Advocate stays in contact with the family throughout the investigation. They will also follow up with the family to encourage the use of referrals services.