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St. Joseph’s Sanchez completes forensic interviewing training

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St. Joseph's Mercy Health Center

St. Joseph’s Sanchez completes new forensic interviewing protocol training

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – St. Joseph’s Mercy Health Center’s Tracey Sanchez, BSW, recently completed Finding Words training – the state of Arkansas’ new forensic interviewing protocol for child abuse cases – at the Shewmaker Center for Workforce Technologies in Rogers.

Consequently, Sanchez is now certified in the Finding Words program and has been using its protocol in her position as forensic interviewer-patient advocate for St. Joseph’s Cooper-Anthony Mercy Child Advocacy Center.

“Our new Director at the Cooper-Anthony Mercy Child Advocacy Center, Janice McCutcheon, and Benton County Children’s Advocacy Center Director Beverly Engle, are responsible for bringing Finding Words to Arkansas,” said Sanchez, a Henderson State University graduate and mother of three – 21-year-old Christopher, 19-year-old Stephen and 15-year-old Ali. “While still in her former position as the main forensic interviewer for the Children’s Advocacy Center of Benton County, Janice contacted National District Attorney Association (NDAA) Director and former prosecuting attorney Victor Vieth, the brainchild and 1998 founder of Finding Words: Interviewing Children and Preparing for Court.

“There has now been three training sessions in Arkansas and I attended the second one. Finding Words is a phenomenal protocol and it is exciting to see it work with the children as we implement it at the Center. Arkansas was the 13th state to be certified in the Finding Words program, and the last I heard it was in 17 states. It is recognized across the nation and is what all of the advocacy centers throughout the United States are going to.”

Finding Words is backed by the NDAA and the American Prosecutors Research Institute, the very people who are fighting and winning child abuse cases across the nation. Moreover, in keeping with the mission of the Cooper-Anthony Mercy Child Advocacy Center, the program always puts the needs of the children first.

“There are components in the protocol that remove blocks for children to disclose,” Sanchez said. “It also makes the child more credible and therefore lends itself to better prosecution rates. Nine times out of 10, a case comes down to the forensic interview, which is why Finding Words is recognized as the best protocol out there.

“Finding Words also takes a multidisciplinary team approach that, besides the forensic interviewer, involves officials from the Department of Human Services, law enforcement and prosecution. All of the Garland County agencies we are involved with really like the new protocol. In fact, the Garland County Prosecuting Attorney and the Prosecutor’s Office believe so strongly in putting children first that they have taken part in the Finding Words training.”

Sanchez, who has been with St. Joseph’s 14 years, spent her first 13 years as an Emergency Department (ED) case manager. In May of 2005, she then accepted her present position with the Cooper-Anthony Mercy Child Advocacy Center. Sanchez has a bachelor’s degree in social work and earned her forensic interviewing certificate from the National Children’s Advocacy Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

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