In Washington County, we are fortunate to have a highly trained
team of professionals which meets every week to respond to child
abuse reports. The roles of the team members are described below.
The State’s Attorney/Prosecutor
The prosecutor has the final decision as to whether charges will
be filed. Consideration is given to many factors which will affect
the likelihood of success in court. Some of the factors considered
are: age and maturity of the child, the child’s ability to
testify, whether or not the suspect has confessed, presence of medical
evidence, and whether or not there are other witnesses.
The Law Enforcement Officer
The Hagerstown Police Department, Maryland State Police, and the
Washington County Sheriff’s Office have investigators on
the team. They interview children, non-offending parents, suspects
other witnesses, and gather evidence from the scene of the alleged
The Social Worker
The Social worker investigates allegations of physical
and sexual abuse of child victims. They work jointly with law enforcment.
Social workers evaluate the safety of the chilren within the home
and develop safety plans when needed. They may refer you and/or
child to multiple resources within the community.
The Doctor/Forensic Nurse Examiner (FNE)
The Medical doctor and Forensic Nurse Examiners working
with the team have years of experience in examining children for
abuse. They provide on-site forensic medical exams. The pediatrician
and nurse are specially trained in sexual and physical abuse of
children. The forensic medical component includes:
- The medical history
- Assessment of injury using a medscope
- Photodocumentation of findings
- Screening for sexually transmitted disease and
- Instructions for referrals, prevention and treatment options.
The therapist on the team helps to decide how the abuse
has affected the child and non-offending family members and what
can be done to assist them in healing from the experience. Safe
Place employs an on-site licensed therapist to provide abuse-focused
individual, group, and family treatment. The therapist works
toward restoring the child’s normal developmental functioning
and assist the non-offending parent in overcoming the crisis.
The Family Advocate
The Family Advocate is a trained professional who helps
the child that was abused and the non-offending caregiver when
is reported. The FA helps the non-offending caregiver connect with
services in the community and provides support as the caregiver
child in the aftermath of the abuse report.