The MDT review is one of the major changes written into the protocol. The protocol calls for "all agencies involved in the investigation, prosecution, treatment, and prevention of child abuse" to participate.1 The MDT review meetings are held at least quarterly and are chaired by the Sheriff's Office Victim Advocate — the director of the VAP. The office is responsible for identifying review cases in conjunction with the District Attorney.
The first MDT meeting occurred September 14, 2002, and participants included the CPS supervisor and caseworkers, sheriff's office investigators, Quitman Police Department investigators, GBI investigator, mental health workers, and service providers. Forty-four cases, many of which were older cases chosen to help address pending issues about current cases, were reviewed.
The expectation of the MDT is to meet monthly and to review cases closer to the point when they enter the system. The first MDT meeting had results similar to the protocol revision process. Some of the caseworkers, service providers, and investigators, who had not participated in the revision process, found it helpful to understand the role that different people and agencies played. Consequently, the first MDT meeting was also a training session.
Another key change is how CPS conducts an investigation that necessitatess school system involvement. Previously, the schools insisted that CPS get parental permission prior to interviewing an alleged child victim. During the protocol revision the school system recognized that CPS can interview an alleged child victim without parental permission. However, the school administrator shall participate in the interview and DFCS will notify the parents that the child has been interviewed.
A third change is initiating cross-agency contact earlier. CPS contact the police or the VAP earlier in the investigation of a CPS case in order to conduct joint interviewing. CPS staff also reported receiving calls from the police and VAP sooner. (The earlier involvement of CPS by police was also the result of efforts that began approximately 2 years ago to videotape interviews with victims. DFCS staff generally conducted these interviews while the police and, at times, the District Attorney or Assistant District Attorney were linked to the interviews via radios.)