Topic: Child Abuse and Neglect

Join us in asking legislators to ensure quality health assessments for child victims

Each year, there are more than 100,000 suspected cases of child abuse and neglect in Colorado. This number represents 100,000 children who deserve access to proper evaluation, diagnosis and care to ensure their physical and mental health and safety. Unfortunately, Colorado does not have the critical expertise throughout the state to provide this service.

The number of experts qualified to conduct these medical and behavioral health assessments is extremely limited. There are only six board-certified specialists in the field of child abuse pediatrics in Colorado. Five of these specialists live in Denver, and the other in Colorado Springs. Their distance to most of the state’s 64 counties limits the access our children have to expert evaluations following suspected abuse or neglect.

A new bill sponsored by Representatives Caraveo and Pelton, and Senator Fields aims to ensure all children who may have experienced physical, sexual abuse or neglect have access to high quality medical evaluations and behavioral health assessments.

HB 19-1133 creates Colorado’s Child Abuse Response and Evaluation Network (CARENetwork), a program to build local capacity by recruiting designated providers from communities across the state and training them to provide quality assessments for suspected victims of child abuse and neglect in their local communities.

These designated providers could include family care physicians, nurses, advance practice providers and behavioral health providers. Each provider will be required to complete advanced training on the signs of abuse and neglect, as well as the risk factors for maltreatment. They will also be equipped with education about the resources available to support families who present these risk factors. Not only will these providers ensure proper diagnosis and treatment, they will also serve as a bridge for families who need continued care by specialists or multi-disciplinary teams.

The CARENetwork will ultimately expand the safety net for children, and will likely contribute to a reduction in severe incidents of child abuse and neglect, including fatalities. If Colorado passes HB19-1133 and creates the CARENetwork, we will take a significant step toward improving the safety and health of babies, toddlers and young children in all Colorado communities.

Kathryn (Kathi) Wells, MD, FAAP
Executive Director | Kempe Center for the Prevention and

John D. Faught
Chief Executive Officer | The Kempe Foundation

Child Maltreatment and Trauma: Treating the Whole Family

Over the past three months, we’ve been exploring the topic of childhood trauma and its impact on mental health. Child maltreatment is the most common cause of trauma for youth and commonly the adult perpetrators, who were also subject to maltreatment in their youth. The perpetrator’s experience is then transmitted to their family. Trauma may also be the result of other events. Trauma is the reaction to frightening, often life-threatening, and violent experiences and while our focus is on child maltreatment, a traumatizing event may be experienced by any or all members of a family and then may lead to maltreatment, disruption of relationships and impede family functioning. Regardless of the trauma type, every trauma is a family trauma.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network notes that all families experience trauma differently, and some factors such as a child’s age or the family’s culture or ethnicity may influence how the family copes and recovers from a traumatic event. Trauma changes families as they work to survive and adapt to their circumstances and environment. While this adjustment may be less difficult for some, for others the stress and burden cause them to feel isolated, overwhelmed, and less able to maintain vital family functions.

At Kempe, we believe that every family who has faced trauma deserves access to treatment so that they may heal and recover together. That’s why the Kempe Center’s IMHOFF Clinic takes a whole family approach and provides services for children, as well as their parents, caregivers and siblings who may also be dealing with symptoms related to stress, trauma and adversity.

We recently connected with Dr. Steven Berkowitz, a visiting professor at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus who is working in collaboration with Kempe to grow the IMHOFF Clinic’s whole family care approach.

Why is a family-focused approach a more effective way to address trauma?

Very often, children who experience trauma have parents or caregivers who were also traumatized in their youth and never received treatment to address the emotional, cognitive and behavioral consequences. Because trauma can be transmitted across generations, we see these children experience the same things that happened to their parents and caregivers. As a treatment provider, it is important to assess everyone in the family to identify any significant issues or psychological symptoms that may be related to an intergenerational history of trauma. In order for the child to successfully recover from their own traumatic experiences, we must take a whole family perspective and treat everyone in the family unit.

What is unique about your work at the IMHOFF Clinic?

We are building the IMHOFF Clinic into a family-focused clinic that provides services for children, youth and adults dealing with symptoms related to stress, trauma and adversity. Our multidisciplinary treatment team works together with children and their families in a much more integrated way. In the past, if we saw a parent or caregiver struggling alongside their child, we would have to refer them to another treatment provider in a completely different location. Here, the treatment is in one place and we offer a range of individualized therapies and pharmacology to any family members who need it.

What are you hoping to achieve at the IMHOFF Clinic?

This group is on the forefront of providing the most comprehensive and evidence-based assessments and treatments that focus on stress and trauma throughout the lifespan. We are working to develop a model program that helps to unify the various departments of the University of Colorado, School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado in order to better serve the families that come to Kempe for help. We’d also like to develop an effective home-based program for children and families so that treatment can happen in the least restrictive, most normative setting possible, with the goal being to help families live and function successfully at home.

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Ren Cannon Matching up to $30,000 on Colorado Gives Day

Once again, our Kempe Ambassadors Chair Ren Cannon will match all Colorado Gives Day donations up to $30,000! This means we can raise twice as many funds and get closer to our fundraising goal of $90,000!

Thanks to Ren and donors like you, Kempe is changing the way we talk about and treat child abuse and neglect. This “hidden epidemic” crosses all socio-economic, religious and ethnic boundaries and impacts communities across Colorado and the country.

Your Colorado Gives Day donation will support our work to protect children and families everywhere. Please help us reach our goal of $90,000 and donate on December 4.

 

How to Schedule Your Donation in Advance:

Your Colorado Gives Day donation can be scheduled ahead of time. Your donation will process on Colorado Gives Day, December 4th, and still count towards the $1 million incentive fund.

  • Go to The Kempe Foundation’s Colorado Gives profile.
  • Click on “DONATE” button.
  • Enter donation amount.
  • Under “Donation Frequency,” choose the option “CO Gives Day.” This will schedule the donation to process on December 4th.
  • Finish the step-by-step process and click “Add to Cart.”

Kempe ID Awarded Opportunity to Assist United States Olympic Committee

Kempe Innovative Designs was recently awarded the opportunity to assist the athletic programs of the United States Olympic Committee. The Kempe Center’s Kasey Matz, MA and her team will be designing, developing and testing new training materials for sexual, physical and emotional abuse identification, investigation and prevention in amateur athletic programs.

This effort will be supported by funding through the SMART FY 2018 Keep Young Athletes Safe grant program developed under direction of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART). This program furthers the Department’s mission of reducing sexual violence by supporting an entity to provide oversight of the United States Olympic Committee, each national governing body, and each Paralympic sports organization with regard to safeguarding amateur athletes against abuse, including sexual, physical and emotional abuse in sports.

In January 2018, a U.S. House of Representatives committee opened an investigation into sexual abuse in organized sports in response to the sentencing of Dr. Larry Nassar. His abuse of more than 150 women and girls, as well as reports of sexual misconduct allegations in the Taekwondo community and allegations of sexual abuse from former U.S. swimmers, led to the commitment for action. In its announcement, the committee noted the “abhorrent abuses” associated with Nassar’s case, the U.S. Taekwondo athletes and U.S. swimmer allegations, and raised concerns about whether the United States Olympic Committee had sufficient oversight mechanisms to protect its athletes from abuse and mistreatment.

In February 2018, Congress passed the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017, designed to extend the mandatory reporting requirements of child abuse to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movements to ensure that reports are immediately made to local or federal law enforcement authorities. There are 47 U.S. Olympic organizations across the country that require oversight on these fronts provided by an outside organization with expertise in preventing and investigating all forms of abuse.

The award to Kempe will support developing necessary educational materials, investigatory tools, training programs and policies that can prevent abuse, and work to address abuse, once identified.

Empowering Survivors to Move Forward with Hope and Dignity

Brittany* was 15 when she was referred to Extended Hands of Hope by a caseworker from Jefferson County’s Department of Human Services. She had been in and out of jail since the age of nine, had a history of running away, and was grades behind in both math and reading. On top of this, her severe depression was fueled by drug and alcohol addiction.

It took Brittany about two months before she allowed the Extended Hands of Hope team to help her. She struggled with the structure and process of the program, refusing therapy and every service offered by her caseworker. Her trauma was so deep that she even rejected personal hygiene and would gnaw on her own hair because of nervousness.

Eventually, Brittany began substance abuse treatment, counseling and therapy. She took a shower for the first time in months, and attended Extended Hands of Hope’s licensed, on-site school, Forward Learning Academy. She successfully made it through every phase of the program, and by the time she finished, she was re-enrolled in school, applying for jobs and reunited with her mom. Brittany also continued therapy after she left and regularly attended substance abuse support groups.

Had Brittany not come to a trauma-informed facility like Extended Hands of Hope, she would have been presumed defiant by the courts and ended up in jail, back under control of a pimp, or dead. Extended Hands of Hope protects young girls like Brittany who have been recovered from sex trafficking and exploitation and provides them with safe homes and a strong support team to help them heal and develop long-term survivorship skills. By fostering a trusting and supportive environment, these young girls are able to move forward into a new beginning.

Join us October 4 for a panel discussion with Extended Hands of Hope and other experts to learn more about what is being done in Colorado to protect our vulnerable youth. Register here.

*Brittany is a fictional name used to protect the identity of the survivor.