Collaboration Nominee

CFAC – Child and Family Advocacy Center
Blue Earth County

A Child and Family Advocacy Center is a safe, neutral, and child-friendly place for children and adolescents who have experienced abuse, neglect, or who have witnessed a violent crime. The CFAC was established to provide children with a safe space to tell their story and to only have to tell it once. In the past, victims often would be interviewed by multiple agencies, at different times, in different locations. Thus, the individual would have to tell their story multiple times to different professionals. Our multidisciplinary team approach brings all relevant professionals (human services, mental health experts, medical professionals, victim advocates, prosecution, and law enforcement) to the CFAC at the same time. This allows the group to collaborate together as they watch the video of the interview at the same time.

The goal of establishing a CFAC in our region began over three years ago. The Blue Earth County Attorney’s Office collaborated with numerous community partners, and the Minnesota Children’s Alliance. Partnering with Mayo Clinic Health System gives children and their families throughout our region direct access to the expertise of medical providers and the many unique services they provide locally to address these issues. The CFAC has also partnered with the local Committee Against Domestic Abuse (CADA) to establish victim advocacy support for children that go to the CFAC for forensic interviews. The Information Technology Department played an integral role in establishing the equipment and help guide solutions that were both effective and easy to use. The equipment in the center is sophisticated enough to capture all aspects of an interview yet not set up to be intrusive. We have a smart tv and camera system that captures each session as well as a smartboard to utilize for drawing or capturing data. We have set up the solution so that a switch turns on the equipment and prepares it for use. When the interview is done, the interviewer is prompted to burn a disc of their interview and have immediate access. We are working on future technological integrations such as an Apple watch to unobtrusively prompt the interviewer questions by the observation room via text message. I would specifically like to call out Jason Brown from the Blue Earth County IT Department for his dedication to this project and the hard work he did collaborating with all the individuals that made this project a success. His work with not only the County but the partners at CFAC and the vendors that were involved in providing a solution were exemplary.

In Blue Earth County, case review is held monthly with multidisciplinary team members. Case review encourages mutual accountability and helps to assure that children’s needs are met sensitively, effectively and in a timely manner. Multidisciplinary team members share knowledge, experience, and expertise so that informed decisions can be made, collaborative efforts are nurtured, formal and informal communication is promoted, mutual support is provided, and protocols/procedures are reviewed and evaluated. In 2019 we’ve conducted 26 interviews. settings

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Steering Committee

Alex Hepp, City of Hopkins
Bill Bleckwehl, Cisco
Dave Andrews, DEED
Jay Wyant, Minnesota IT Services
Jim Hall, Ramsey County
Matt Bailey, IBM
Melissa Reeder, League of Minnesota Cities
Nathan Beran, City of New Ulm
Sue Wallace, IT Futures Foundation
Lisa Meredith, Minnesota Counties Computer Cooperative
Justin Kaufman, Minnesota IT Services
Renee Heinbuch, Washington County/MNCITLA
Jerine Rosato, Ramsey County
David Berthiaume, Minnesota IT Services
Cory Tramm, Sourcewell Tech 

Content Committee

Tomas Alvarez, Federal Reserve
Tom Ammons, MN.IT – Central
Dave Andrews, MN State Services for the Blind
Susan Bousquet, MN.IT – DOT
Robert Granvin, Metro State
Alex Hepp, City of Hopkins
Shawntan Howell, Ramsey County
Jenny Johnson, Metropolitan Council
Millicent Kasal, MN.IT – Central
Ping Li, MN.IT – MMB
Chibuzor Nnaji, MN.IT – DHS
Mehrdad Shabestari, MN.IT – Central