In our last blog post we focused on our Forensic Services program. This week, I thought what better way to follow up our previous post than to focus on our Director of Forensic Services, Jason Simpson! Jason began his journey with The Tree House in 2010 as an intern. After his internship ended he was offered a position in Family Services as the Coordinator for supervised visitation. Jason enjoyed helping with supervised visitation, but found he liked working more in an ever changing environment and with a constant change in clients. To pursue this, Jason began providing counseling, but ultimately found that was not the best fit for his interests and skills either.
Around 2011, Jason was offered training in forensic interviewing to assist with those services while continuing to work with supervised visitation clients. He was very nervous and a bit hesitant at first. There is a lot of pressure on forensic interviewers to ask the right questions in a way to ensure that the interviews are legally-sound and that they collect credible information for law enforcement and/or DFCS investigators to corroborate a case. Jason, who has interviewed over 1000 children, found he enjoyed the challenge of providing forensic interviews and how unique each case is. This role also gave him a chance to work with several different agencies and be a part of a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) to respond to abuse and trauma cases. Throughout the years, Jason has learned much about the investigative and legal processes and how to best advocate for children that have experienced abuse. The investigative and prosecutorial process for child abuse cases is very complex and difficult even under the best of circumstances. Working in a multi-discplinary team is the best way to support a child and their family and ensure some type of justice is found, whatever that may look like. Jason stated, “I’ve learned that the more people that we have to support each other and share information, the better”. Collaboration helps ensure no child slips through the cracks.
Forensic interviewing is a challenging job that requires our interviewers to think on their toes, operate with grace for one another, and offer support to our team and every family that enters our building. In 2016, Jason became the Director of Forensic Services and has held that job since. According to Jason, “There is no normal day to day really, but on any given day we are conducting forensic interviews, informing community members on how to report and respond to abuse, following up with clients we have seen to make sure they have any needs, connecting MDT members with information sources and other partners, testifying on the behalf of our clients in hearing criminal trials, and advocating for any resources our clients may need.” The forensic team also spends a good amount of time reviewing their forensic interviews with other interviewers and experienced members of the field to help ensure quality services are provided.
Forensic interviewing is also a job that requires a good amount of personal resiliency and support. Interviewers are oftentimes the first person children share details about the abuse with. Hearing these traumatic incidents can lead to secondary traumatic stress if forensic interviewers don’t have support to help them cope with these difficult tasks. This is also true for the investigating team members, such as law enforcement and DFCS. Part of Jason’s job is to provide support to his staff and the team members he works with every day. He states, “I’m the person who will always try to make a heavy situation as light as possible. We all do what we can to make sure that each other is ok and how we can support them”.
Due to the pandemic, the last year and a half have been particularly difficult in taking a team approach to these situations, but our staff has been diligent in overcoming obstacles to continue delivering services to our clients and staying connected. Jason said it best when he said, “We never know what tomorrow will be like, but I do know that if I call on a staff member or MDT member for support or a need, they’ll have my back.” Jason plays an important role at our organization and we are lucky to have him on our team! #GreatChildhoodsBeginWithAllOfUs