“Providing a Voice means to me to be able to get every child the services they need in order to heal and become productive citizens.”
Sasha Soileau, MDT Coordinator
What is an MDT coordinator?
MDT stands for Multi-Disciplinary Team. The MDT coordinators are the first step in our Children’s Advocacy Center. We are where the healing starts. We are the first people at Child Advocates of Fort Bend to be aware of a child’s situation. We have the first contact with law enforcement and CPS and get the children into our Center for a forensic interview to determine what has happened to them so we can get them on the road to healing.
The reporting process –the child abuse hotline – how does it work?
All reports of child abuse via the Texas Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-252-5400) go directly to a CPS call center in Austin, TX where it is determined if it meets the criteria for abuse/neglect. Whether the perpetrator is in the home and whether the perpetrator has access to the victim or other children determines if it is marked as a Priority 1 or Priority 2 case. Once that has been determined, it is sent to the CPS office where the child lives, as well as the law enforcement jurisdiction where the child lives and the Children’s Advocacy Center that services the county.
Once it arrives at the local CPS office, the case is assigned to a supervisor, who will then assign it to the investigator. Once law enforcement receives the CPS report, the Sergeant usually reviews the allegations. Some agencies will send a patrol officer out to do an initial report and then it will be assigned to a detective. At Child Advocates of Fort Bend, our MDT Coordinators review it within 30 minutes of the time is sent from Austin.
Why is the MDT program important?
I believe that the MDT program is essential. I like to think that we are the “backup” for CPS and law enforcement. Law enforcement and CPS personnel both have a huge responsibility and an enormous workload. We try to help ease the load by connecting the detective and CPS investigator on each case. In addition, we are an extra set of eyes reviewing cases to make sure that no case (and no child) slips between the cracks. We reviewed 5,707 reports last year. We keep track of all CPS cases so that we can see patterns. A single CPS report might not sound so bad on paper but if there are continuous reports, we can see the pattern and try to get the family services.
What is one of the most important things for you in your role?
Having a relationship with our partners is critical to this position. I take huge pride in getting to know all our partners and in developing relationships with all of them so that they feel comfortable when they call – as if they are calling an old friend. Our ability to work together is essential to finding the best outcomes for children.