Forensic and Medical Services
As the largest Child Advocacy Center in San Diego County, the Forensic and Medical Services (FMS) program at the Chadwick Center at Rady Children’s Hospital serves children and adolescents who may have experienced child maltreatment or witnessed violence. San Diego County law enforcement agencies and the County Department of Health and Human Services regularly refer children and families to this program for evaluation and treatment. Services are offered in both English and Spanish and include forensic interviews, medical examinations, victim advocacy, and brief early intervention for children and adolescents who have experienced a potentially traumatic event to support them on the road to recovery.
A forensic interview is conducted by a trained professional whose goal is to gather accurate and detailed information from the child using developmentally appropriate, legally sound interviewing techniques. Forensic interviews are scheduled at the request of an investigating agency (Law Enforcement or Child Welfare Services) and are conducted in a child-friendly interview room. All forensic interviews are video-recorded and are usually observed by the members of the multidisciplinary team.
Forensic Medical Exams
Forensic medical examinations are provided by experienced and compassionate pediatricians who have additional training in injury documentation, evidence collection, and the medical care of maltreated children. These examinations are provided in a sensitive and supportive manner. There is a daily clinic at the Chadwick Center, located on the Kearny Mesa campus of Rady Children’s Hospital. Afterhours sexual abuse examination and inpatient consultations take place at the main campus of Rady Children’s Hospital.
The following types of medical Exams are available:
Forensic Sexual Abuse Medical Exam
- Acute exams, referred by local law enforcement jurisdictions in cases in which evidence may be able to be recovered. Generally the sexual contact is suspected to have occurred within the past 72 hours. There is 24/7 availability for this exam when indicated.
- Non-acute exams are requested when a disclosure indicates a more remote contact and it is unlikely there is any evidence that can be collected.
The FMS Victim Advocate supports victims, witnesses, and their families. The Victim Advocate strives to ensure victims are treated fairly and that their voices are heard. The Victim Advocate works to assure that the victim and their family members received the necessary information and services, including:
- Assistance with Victim Compensation application and claim process
- Support during Forensic Interviews and Medical Exams
- Referrals to community resources
- Referral to general services and supports
Brief Early Therapy Intervention
The Chadwick Center FMS Program has experienced clinicians trained in the Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention (CFTSI). This intervention was designed for children ages 7-18 and their supportive caregiver(s). Families are referred to CFTSI after their child has participated in a Forensic Interview and/or Forensic Medical Exam. The goal of this family-strengthening model is to improve the caregiver’s ability to respond to, and support, a child who has endorsed at least one posttraumatic symptom. By raising awareness of the child’s symptoms, increasing communication, and providing skills to help master trauma reactions, CFTSI aims to reduce symptoms and prevent onset of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition, CFTSI offers an opportunity to assess which children and families could benefit from additional or long-term treatment thus potentially filling a gap between the acute response/crisis intervention treatment and evidence-based, longer term treatments designed to address traumatic stress symptoms and/or other issues that have been identified. CFTSI clinicians provide referrals to Chadwick’s Trauma Counseling Program and other Mental Health providers in the community when longer term treatment is needed.
Location and Contact Information
To schedule appointments:
Phone: (858) 966-5980
Fax: (858) 966-8148
Medical Director: Dr. Shalon Nienow
Clinic Hours: 8 AM – 5 PM
Rady Children’s Hospital’s Health Services Building
3665 Kearny Villa Rd
San Diego, Ca 92123
3020 Children’s Way MC 5014
San Diego, CA 92123