BY TERI FIGUEROA
The renovation was done to address increased needs under a recently expanded countywide protocol calling for interviewing children who have witnessed severe or chronic domestic violence
A recently renovated space for investigators to interview young victims or witnesses to crime is now up and running, a location more convenient to families on the southern end of San Diego.
The room is in Your Safe Space — A Family Justice Center in downtown San Diego, which provides support services to victims of domestic or family violence, elder abuse, sexual assault, and sex trafficking.
Diane Doherty, executive director of Your Safe Space, said the new room was renovated to address needs under the recently expanded countywide protocol, which now includes more fully addressing the needs of children who have witnessed severe or chronic domestic violence.
Near the interview room is space for law enforcement investigators and others, such as prosecutors, to observe the interaction between the child and the interviewer. The information gathered in forensic interviews might be used in a criminal case. A waiting room for families rounds out the new Children’s Forensic Interview Center designed to offer trauma-informed services.
The new space will be able to accommodate some of interviews now done at Rady Children’s Chadwick Center, a children’s advocacy center that provides services to youth who may have experienced or witnessed violence or abuse.
Last year, Chadwick handled interviews for 650 children. Doherty said the new location in downtown San Diego will be able to do some of that work. Authorities are easing into the new site with only a few interviews conducted there since its soft open at the end of November.
It’s a slow rollout as training is completed, she said. The rooms are only open for interviews twice a week.
It only serves San Diego police cases — for now. “Our goal is to open it up to all law enforcement,” Doherty said.
It will serve anyone who law enforcement sends to them, but one benefit is the convenience and a potential time-saver for families in southern San Diego communities — shaving off roughly 10 miles and 20 minutes from a drive to Chadwick, in San Diego’s Birdland neighborhood.
Your Safe Place is run by the San Diego City Attorney’s Office, but access to its services is offered countywide, including counseling, danger assessments and planning.
Last year, a $100,000 donation to cover renovation costs to a child interview room at Your Safe Space raised questions after the Union-Tribune reported that the tax-exempt foundation that accepted the money was listed as delinquent with state regulators. The foundation status has since been made current.