237 ChildFirst Alaska


 ChildFirst™Alaska is a joint effort by the State of Alaska Office of Children's Services, The Alaska Children's Alliance, The State of Alaska Department of Public Safety, the State of Alaska Department of Law, The University of Alaska Anchorage Child Welfare Academy, Child Advocacy Center staff and Multidisciplinary Team members. 

The mission of ChildFirst™Alaska

"The child is our first priority. Not the needs of the family. Not the child's "story". Not the evidence. Not the needs of the court. Not the needs of police, child protection, attorney's etc... The child is our first priority!" 

ChildFirst™is the forensic interview training program of the Gunderson National Child Protection Training Center, a child abuse training facility, headquartered at Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota. Its purpose since 2003, is to assist states in developing certified forensic interview training programs in cases of child abuse and to assist those participants and interviewers in defending their interviews and work product in court. The ChildFirst™forensic interviewing protocol brings the field into the classroom, enhancing the education of front-line child abuse professionals. This course is designed for investigative teams of law enforcement officers, child protection workers, prosecutors, child protection attorneys and forensic interviewers. Students receive training on the ChildFirst™Forensic Interview Protocol, child development, memory and suggestibility, testifying in court, legal issues and preparing children for court. This training incorporates lecture and discussion, review of electronically recorded interviews, skill-building exercises and an interview practicum. This protocol has been specifically recognized and approved by many appellate courts throughout the country. 

The five-day course is intensive and rigorous and includes homework assignments, a critiqued mock forensic interview for every participant and culminates in a written, proctored examination. Successful participants will receive a Certificate of completion. 

Alaska's rate of child sexual assault is six times the national average. Due to our vast and difficult terrain, law enforcement and child protection workers have many challenges in responding to child abuse reports. The majority of our communities are located in areas with very limited access which is weather dependent. It is critical that there are trained child forensic interviewers throughout the state. The ChildFirst™model was selected because it fits the culture and children of the state and has been proven to be more conducive to holding individuals accountable for the crimes they commit against children. The protocol guidelines are intertwined throughout the interview, but most importantly, the cultural aspect of Alaskan children is respected and this respect plays a major role in how the interview is conducted.