Zoey’s Place receives $8,000 grant for advanced training in Hancock County


By Zoey's Place

Zoey’s Place Child Advocacy Center is thrilled to announce we’ve received nearly $8,000 to help cover costs of training numerous agencies and first responders working in Hancock County for ChildFirst training.

ChildFirst is a nationally recognized training protocol from the nonprofit Zero Abuse Project. It’s designed for investigators, first responders, law enforcement officers, medical and mental health professionals, child protection workers, and forensic interviewers.

Zoey’s Place Executive Director Katie Molinder learned about the grant in mid-October after applying for it earlier this year. “ChildFirst is an intense training protocol,” says Molinder. “It takes place over five days and requires everyone to participate in detailed lectures and in mock forensic interviews.” The money comes from the federal Children’s Justice Act and is administered by the Department of Child Services. 

The mock forensic interview exercise challenges professionals to follow specific methods for interacting with and listening to kids who may have just experienced physical abuse, sexual assault, or witnessed a crime.

“The mock interviews are with an experienced actor, and are incredibly valuable,” says Molinder. “We’ve undergone ChildFirst training here at Zoey’s Place, but we want law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and other members of our multidisciplinary team to participate in this training so they develop a better appreciation for the process,” says Molinder. 

This $8,000 grant helps cover the cost of training and lodging costs for attendees over the week-long session. The cost of training per attendee is $700. “Even the binder that comes with this is expensive at over 800 pages of information,” says Molinder. “This grant helps us cover those costs.”

Zoey’s Place CAC applied for the grant with the intent to cover costs for partners who work closely with the CAC. This includes members of the Greenfield, New Palestine, Shirley, Cumberland, Fortville and McCordsville Police Departments, Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, and Hancock County Prosecutor’s Office. 

“Our goal is to get one member from every law enforcement agency serving Hancock County to attend,” says Molinder. The intent is to familiarize team members of ChildFirst so they’re better participants from the observation room while the forensic interview is underway. They’ll be able to ask better questions, understand the needs of the child more, and that, ultimately, leads to better outcomes for the child and the criminal justice process,” says Molinder. 

The next ChildFirst training in Indiana is expected in Spring 2024 and is organized by ChildFirst Indiana with support from the Indiana Chapter of National Children’s Alliance and other Child Advocacy Centers who help host the event. 87 of Indiana’s 92 counties have trained the multidisciplinary team members in the ChildFirst protocol.

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