Topic: People

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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Dr. Kathryn Wells named new Director of Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect

The Kempe Center and Kempe Foundation are pleased to announce Kathryn Wells, MD as the new Executive Director of the Center. A board certified specialist in Child Abuse Pediatrics, Dr. Wells has dedicated her career to protecting children and families and building communities where children have the opportunity to thrive.

“In my experience, child abuse and neglect can’t be solved by one person or profession,” said Wells. “In this role, I hope to build on the tremendous reputation and history of the Kempe Center as a leader in preventing and treating child abuse and neglect. We hope to build and strengthen the community partnerships we have with the State of Colorado and counties around the state. In doing so, I hope Colorado will be a model for the rest of the country.”

For nearly 50 years, the Kempe Center has strived to improve the care and well being of all children by strengthening families, communities and the systems that serve them. Through clinical service, research, education and training, the Center supports innovation in systems and communities that work with vulnerable children, youth and families.

Dr. Wells will also be serving as the Section Head for Child Abuse and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. The Center is located on the Anshutz Medical Campus, and is supported by the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Kempe Foundation. It also works in partnership with Children’s Hospital Colorado to run the Kempe Child Protection Team, a multidisciplinary team made up of professionals from medicine, pediatrics, mental health and hospital social work to evaluate, diagnose and treat suspected victims of child abuse and neglect.

Prior to taking this position, Wells was the Medical Director of the Denver Health Clinic at the Family Crisis Center and an attending physician at Denver Health and with the Kempe Child Protection Team at Children’s Hospital Colorado. She also did clinical research at the Kempe Center and served as an Outreach Liaison with ECHO Colorado. Wells is originally from Montana where she went to college at Carroll College in Helena, MT. She then earned her medical degree from Creighton University in Omaha, NE where she also completed a pediatric residency at Creighton/University of NE combined program. She practiced general pediatrics for 5 years in Caldwell, ID before coming to Colorado in 2001.

Wells follows Dr. Desmond Runyan in this position. Runyan retired from the Kempe Center in 2018

Announcing the 2019 Kempe Award Honorees

On March 14, The Kempe Foundation will honor two community advocates at our signature Imagine 2019 Luncheon – Jade Woodard and Cresa. Both honorees are commended for their dedication to children through professional and personal accomplishments and commitments. We are grateful to have these honorees as long-time supporters of Kempe and leaders in our community.

“Kempe is pleased to honor Jade and Cresa as community leaders at our Imagine 2019 Luncheon,” says John Faught, Chief Executive Officer of The Kempe Foundation. “This year’s honorees manifest the same compassion and caring for children that is the core of Kempe’s work.”

2019 Kempe Professional Award Honoree, Jade Woodard is the Executive Director of Illuminate Colorado – a united network of four established organizations partnering to build brighter childhoods through education, advocacy and family support. Governed by a single Board of Directors, agency programs are fully integrated to leverage resources and increase overall capacity to implement powerful programs to keep kids safe.

Over the past decade, Jade has worked alongside The Kempe Foundation to bring people together in innovative ways to heal children and families. By leveraging her relationships and collaborating with other professionals, she continues to help move statewide child abuse and neglect prevention efforts forward.

 

2019 Kempe Imhoff Family Community Award Honoree, Cresa is the world’s largest tenant representation firm with a corporate mission to “Do the Right Thing.” Through their Cresa Cares program, employees and leadership are encouraged to give back to their local communities by supporting charitable organizations, many of which are dedicated to the well-being and care of children and families.

Garrett Johnson, the Managing Principal of Cresa and a Kempe Ambassador, will accept the award on behalf of the company. For more than three years, Garrett has served as a Kempe Ambassador, working in concert with the Foundation to identify awareness, education, advocacy and fundraising opportunities to help end child abuse and neglect. He is a community advocate for not only the safety, health and well-being of children, but also for the work of Kempe.

Congratulations to this year’s honorees – we thank you for your passion and dedication to Kempe’s mission to keep all children safe and healthy by supporting experts in the field, advocating for children and engaging with communities. And we look forward to celebrating you on March 14!

Register today for Imagine 2019 and help us celebrate these incredible individuals!

 

Reducing the Trauma of Child Sex Trafficking Victims – Q&A with Denise Abdoo

Children and youth who are victims of sex trafficking often experience high levels of trauma, which can have profound negative impacts on their physical, emotional and psychological well-being for decades. When working with these individuals, it is essential for child welfare professionals to recognize this past trauma and create supportive recovery environments.

As a joint program with the Child Protection Team and the Pediatric Emergency Department at Children’s Hospital Colorado, there is now a dedicated team of pediatric and adolescent focused registered nurses who provide comprehensive care to victims of sexual assault and trafficking. The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) nurses provide acute sexual assault care with a trained eye toward the sensitivities of working with adolescents and young adults. They support our young patients through sensitive and timely examinations, connecting patients with legal and mental health resources, infectious disease treatment and more.

We recently connected with Denise Abdoo, PhD, CPNP, SANE-A, SANE-P, who leads the SANE team and asked her to share more about how they work to protect child and youth victims of sex trafficking.

Tell us more about the SANE team.

Currently, there are 13 registered nurses on the SANE team. We require a minimum of two years nursing experience along with additional education and training to be prepared to perform forensic examinations. Additionally, the SANE nurses provide expert witness testimony in court. Our team works closely with local law enforcement agencies and the Colorado Department of Human Services regarding trafficking activities within the community.

How do you know if someone is being trafficked?

When a patient is brought to the hospital or comes in for treatment, they don’t usually tell us they are being sexually exploited. We are trained to ask specific questions and look for signs of trafficking. Sexually exploited youth include male and female patients, from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Many of the sexually exploited youth are identified as high-risk youth, including victims of prior abuse, homeless children, runaways, those who were forced out of the home, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community, those with a history of substance abuse, prior legal involvement, and those within the foster care or welfare systems.

What can we do if we suspect child sex trafficking in our community?

Recognize it. And then report your concerns to the appropriate authorities. If you are a parent, family member or friend who is concerned that a child is being trafficked – or if you have a suspicion that someone you know is trafficking – you should reach out to your county’s human services department first. You can also call Colorado’s statewide child abuse hotline, 1-800-CO-4-KIDS, and they will connect you to the appropriate resources.

Kempe Professionals Named “Top Docs” by 5280

The Kempe Foundation is proud to support experts in the field who work day in and day out to provide extraordinary care to children in our community. This year, three doctors from the Kempe Center were once again included on 5280 magazine’s list of “Top Docs.” The list recognizes professionals from 95 specialities who were nominated by their peers.

We would like to congratulate the following Kempe Center doctors who were recognized in their area of specialty, Child Abuse Pediatrics.

Dr. Andrew Sirotnak

Dr. Antonia Chiesa

Dr. Kathryn Wells