MDIC: A collaborative approach to support our county’s most vulnerable children
When someone walks into the Placer County Multi-Disciplinary Interview Center (MDIC) office, they can instantly see the love and care the team puts into what they do. The walls are filled with pictures drawn by children, the fridge is filled with snacks and the space has a warmth that one doesn’t always see in a government office.
With the nature of work the center does, the office is designed to bring comfort to a child during a very difficult time. MDIC serves as a child-friendly, forensic interview center for children who may have been abused or witnessed a crime. Child-related investigations are among the most challenging tasks that communities face and minimizing trauma for children and families is a top priority in Placer County.
When the unthinkable happens, research shows that multiple interviews by untrained interviewers can create additional problems and trauma for a child, thereby adversely affecting outcomes. To avoid this, the center seeks to reduce the number of interviews, employ child-centered, developmentally appropriate and trauma-informed practices and facilitate the coordination of support services. Placer MDIC ensures a more seamless process that prioritizes the well-being of the child while seeking justice for those who have been victimized. MDIC was also designed to streamline the legal process while connecting families to resources.
Placer’s MDIC was founded in 1993 through a joint program with the Placer County District Attorney's Office and Placer County Health and Human Services, partnering with law enforcement, child protective services, medical, mental health and advocacy professionals.
Located in the D.A.’s Office, MDIC offers a central location for partners to work together as a team to help protect vulnerable children during the criminal justice process. The interview is conducted by a trained child forensic interview specialist and each team member observes the interview through a closed-circuit monitor and ear-piece communication with remote viewing capabilities for out-of-county agencies.
Multi-Disciplinary Interview Center Coordinator Jessica Waterford will tell you that the center stands as a shining example of a compassionate and effective approach, providing the support and protection needed during these sensitive investigations. The interview rooms are even painted with murals and have readily available stuffed animals, blankets and snacks for comfort during the interview process.
The Placer MDIC team operates under the District Attorney’s Office Investigations Unit and serves as a model for the state in best practices for child forensic interviews. Not only does the MDIC teamwork with children, families and resource providers to ensure what is best for the child in the home, they also provide outreach and education to community partners with mandated reporter training.
While the nature of MDIC’s work is reactive, they are also joining in the D.A.’s mission to proactively work in the community to address issues before they become a referral to the office. This includes teaching teenagers about the dangers of sexting, sextortion, teen dating violence, as well as internet safety for parents. The center also held its first resource fair, which gave local families a one-stop-shop for community resources as well as trainings on child safety.
On the wall of one of the observation rooms is a board showing a written list of professions ranging from police officer, to teacher, to Tik Tok star. At the end of each interview they ask the child what they want to be when they grow up and then it is added to the board. This serves as a reminder for both the children and the interview team that regardless of the current situation, the future ahead for the beautiful child is still bright.