Frequently Asked Questions



General Questions

Washington State RCW 26-44-020 defines abuse and neglect as injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child by any person under circumstances which indicate that the child’s health, welfare, and safety is harmed..

If you have a question about whether something is child abuse, it’s best to speak to a trained professional about what you’ve seen or heard by calling Child Protective Services at 1-866-ENDHARM 

The most important thing you can do is to remain calm and neutral and listen to the child. Pay close attention to what the child says but don’t ask for all of the details about what took place. Allow the child to tell you what happened in their own words and assure them that they’re not in trouble. It’s important to then tell CPS and/or the police about what the child reported so that they can conduct a thorough investigation.

According to Washington State law, certain professionals are considered “mandated reporters” and they are required to report their concerns to CPS and/or the police when they believe that a child is being harmed. Mandated reporters include police, nurses, counselors, CASAs/GALs, childcare providers, teachers, and many other professionals. For a complete list, please see the Washington State Legislature website.

It’s important to remember that whether you are required by state law to report abuse or not, it is everyone’s responsibility to speak up for children when they are being harmed.

It’s not your responsibility to prove whether or not a child is being abused. Rather, it’s your responsibility to report any reasonable concern of abuse to Child Protective Services and/or the police.If you suspect that a child is being abused, call 1-866-ENDHARM. If an immediate police response is needed, call 9-1-1.

Usually a report is taken, and the case is assigned to a detective who has received specialized training in investigating these types of crimes. The case will be investigated by the law enforcement agency responsible for the location where the crime occurred. The detective investigates the possible crime by collecting information from the child, the person who is accused of the crime, as well as anyone else that may have information about what might have happened. The police may take photos or possession of items that they believe are important in the investigation of the crime. The police may also refer some children to medical services for an examination. Additionally, advocacy services are offered to children and their care providers during the investigation. When the investigation is complete the detective turns the case into the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and it is the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office that decides whether or not to file criminal charges.

First, a social worker will decide whether the case is appropriate for Child Protective Services. CPS only accepts cases where the suspect is a parent, is acting in the role of a parent, or the child is potentially in danger because of something or someone in the home. If the case does not fit into one of these categories CPS will not assign a CPS social worker.

If a CPS social worker is assigned they will often begin by assessing the safety of the child by speaking with the child. They will also speak with the parents/guardians of the child, the person who is accused of harming the child, and anyone else who may have information about the care of the child. Based on the information that CPS collects, they will work with the family to ensure the on-going safety and well-being of the child.

Questions About the Child Forensic Interview

A “Child forensic interview” is a developmentally sensitive and legally sound method of gathering factual information regarding allegations of child abuse, child neglect, or exposure to violence. This interview is conducted by a competently trained, neutral professional utilizing techniques informed by research and best practice as part of a larger investigative process.

Child forensic interviews are:
  • Investigative
  • Research based
  • Neutral and objectiveDevelopmentally appropriate/sensitiveConducted by a specially trained interviewer
The purposes of a forensic interview are:
  • To obtain information from a child that may be helpful in a criminal investigation
  • To gather reliable evidence about suspected abuse or other crimes for possible presentation in court
  • To assess the safety of the child’s living arrangements
  • To obtain information that will either corroborate of refute allegations or suspicions of abuse and neglect.
  • To assess the need for medical treatment and psychological care
A Child Forensic Interview (CFI) is conducted at the Children’s Advocacy Center when there has been a report to law enforcement or the Department of Children, Youth, and Families that a child may have been a victim of physical or sexual abuse, or when a child may have witnessed a violent crime.

CFI’s at the Children’s Advocacy Center are digitally recorded and provided to law enforcement for their investigation.

All Forensic Interviewers at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Yakima County follow Washington State Child Interview Guidelines based on the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) investigative interview protocol.
Your child will talk with a Child Interview Specialist. The Interviewer is specially trained in evidence-based interview techniques that allow children to talk about what might have happened when there are concerns of a crime.

– Your child will never be forced to talk.
– Your child will be allowed to take breaks or end the interview at any time.

Feel free to share with the detective or advocate any information that you think the interviewer should have about your child, including any language delays, conversations outside the interview, or fears about the interview.
As the parent or guardian, you are the best judge when to tell your child about the coming interview. In general, telling your child a day before the interview allows enough time that the interview is not a surprise and not cause the child a great deal of anxiety. An advocate is available to talk with you before the interview to answer any questions or concerns.

Let your child know that other kids come to talk with the interviewer and that it is the interviewer’s job to listen to kids.

– Give your child permission to talk to the interviewer about anything that might have happened to them.

– Assure them that you will be nearby and available if they need you.

– Tell them that they are not in any trouble, and remind them of the importance to tell the truth.

You might tell your child,

“I’m going to take you to see someone who talks to kids. They talk to kids about all sorts of things that might have happened to them. You are not in trouble. It’s okay to tell anything that’s happened.”

Most kids have a limited attention span and toys and food can distract children from speaking with the interviewer. Remind your child that the purpose of the meeting is to talk (not play) with the interviewer. Feeding your child before the interview is recommended.

No. Children need to be able to talk in a place that is as neutral as possible. Additionally, parents and/or guardians are often witnesses in potential legal cases and your testimony may be compromised by watching the child interview. Each interview is recorded.

The length of the interview will be shaped by your child – their attention span, their pacing, and how much they have to say. Most interviews last approximately 30 – 60 minutes. After the interview, a detective can tell you in general terms what was learned and answer questions about the investigation.

Thank your child for talking to the interviewer and listen to them if they choose to talk about the interview. It’s important not to pressure your child to talk about the interview.

Assure your child of your love and support no matter what they said during the interview.

Tell your child that it is not their fault if something happened to them and there are people who will help them.

Advocacy Resources

The LightHouse

600 North Ave.
Sunnyside, WA 98944
(509) 837-6689

ASPEN Victim Advocacy Services

402 South 4th Ave
Yakima, WA 98902
(509) 452-9675


818 West Yakima Avenue
Yakima, WA 98902
(509) 248-7796

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Aplicación de la Ley

Aplicación de la Ley

Responde a los informes de abuso infantil, investiga las acusaciones junto con el Departamento de Niños, Jóvenes y Familias y realiza arrestos cuando corresponde. 1 of 9

Departamento de Niños

Responde a los informes de abuso infantil, investiga las acusaciones junto con las fuerzas del orden público y trabaja para garantizar que los niños estén seguros. 2 of 9
Fiscal Adjunto

Fiscal Adjunto

Revisa los casos con miembros del equipo multidisciplinario para guiar las investigaciones de abuso infantil, determina si el enjuiciamiento en un tribunal penal es apropiado y prepara los casos para el juicio. 3 of 9
Defensor de Víctimas/Testigos

Defensor de Víctimas / Testigos

Brinda a los niños y sus familias / cuidadores apoyo y educación sobre la investigación y el proceso de justicia penal, y el vínculo con los recursos comunitarios. 4 of 9
Proveedor Médico

Proveedor Médico

Proporciona exámenes físicos, no invasivos para niños con alegaciones o inquietudes de abuso sexual o físico. 5 of 9
Consultor de Salud Mental

Consultor de Salud Mental

Brinda tratamiento de salud mental basado en evidencia y enfocado en el trauma de los niños que han sufrido abuso u otros eventos traumatizantes. 6 of 9
Entrevistador Forense

Forensic Interviewer

Entrevista a los niños que pueden haber sufrido abuso, siguiendo las pautas de entrevista infantil del estado de Washington basadas en el protocolo de entrevista de investigación del Instituto Nacional de Salud Infantil y Desarrollo Humano (NICHD). 7 of 9
Coordinador del MDT

Coordinador del Equipo Multidisciplinario

Facilita un enfoque coordinado en la investigación, el tratamiento y el enjuiciamiento de casos de abuso infantil mediante la utilización de un equipo multidisciplinario de profesionales involucrados en los servicios de protección infantil, aplicación de la ley, procesamiento, defensa de víctimas, servicios médicos y de salud mental. 8 of 9
Niña y Familia

Niña y familia

Nuestra Misión: A través de un equipo multidisciplinario (MDT) que coordina la investigación, el enjuiciamiento y la respuesta terapéutica, el Centro de Defensa de los Niños del Condado de Yakima se esfuerza por reducir el trauma emocional de los niños víctimas y testigos. 9 of 9

Hover over a title to learn more about that role

Law Enforcement

Law Enforcement

Responds to reports of child abuse, investigates the allegations in conjunction with DCYF, and makes arrests when appropriate.

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Responds to reports of child abuse, investigates the allegations in conjunction with law enforcement, and works to ensure children are safe.

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Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

Reviews cases with members of Multidisciplinary Team to guide the child abuse investigations, determines whether prosecution in criminal court is appropriate, and prepares cases for trial.

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Victim/Witness Advocate

Victim/Witness Advocate

Provides Children and their families/caregivers with support and education about the investigation and criminal justice process, and linkage to community resources.

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Medical Provider

Medical Provider

Provides non-invasive physical exams for children with allegations or concerns of sexual or physical abuse. 5 of 9
Mental Health Consultant

Mental Health Consultant

Provides evidence-based and trauma focused mental health treatment to children who have experienced abuse or other traumatizing events.

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Forensic Interviewer

Forensic Interviewer

Interviews children who may have experienced abuse, following Washington State Child Interview Guidelines based on the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) investigative interview protocol.

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MDT Coordinator

MDT Coordinator

Facilitates a coordinated approach in the investigation, treatment, and prosecution of child abuse cases by utilizing a multidisciplinary team of professionals involved in child protective services, law enforcement, prosecution, victim advocacy, medical and mental health services. 8 of 9
Child & Famiy

Child & Family

Our Mission: Through a multidisciplinary team (MDT) coordination of investigation, prosecution, and therapeutic response, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Yakima County strives to reduce the emotional trauma of child victims and witnesses. 9 of 9

Report Abuse

Anyone who is concerned for a child can report abuse.
If you suspect a child is in imminent harm call 9-1-1 for an immediate police response.
Contact Child Protective Services at 1-866-ENDHARM (1-866-363-4276).

Questions that will be asked when you call
1. The name, address and age of the child.
2. The name and address of the child’s parent, guardian or other persons having custody of the child.
3. The nature and extent of the abuse or neglect.
4. Any evidence of previous incidences.
5. Any other information which may be helpful in establishing the cause of the child’s abuse or neglect and the identity of the perpetrator.

You do not need to have all of the above information when you call to make a report, but the more accurate information you can provide, the better equipped the offices will be to assess the child’s risk.

What will happen next?
Every case is different. Some cases may trigger an immediate law enforcement response and others will become cases handled by Child Protective Services. In many cases, a report will initiate a coordinated response from the CAC’s team of professionals.