Topic: Child Abuse Experts

The CARE Network Expands its Impact Across Colorado

Since 2020, the Kempe Center’s Child Abuse Response and Evaluation (CARE) Network has undergone substantial growth. The CARE Network engages health care and behavioral health providers – pediatricians, family doctors, school nurses and more – with the best education and training on conducting medical exams and behavioral health assessments to identify signs and risks of child maltreatment or trauma. Established in 2019 to address a lack of access to expert evaluations in cities and towns across the state, the CARE Network continues to increase capacity and ensure quality care for Colorado’s children and families.

The inaugural group of providers, comprised of 30 medical professionals, received their first CARE Network training in May 2020. One of these providers is Dr. Mary Vader, DO, a pediatrician in Montrose, Colorado. Dr. Vader had a very strong relationship with the Kempe Center for many years before she was invited to join the CARE Network.

“I’m always interested in learning more about health and getting advice to bring back to my own practice,” said Dr. Vader. “I was excited to get involved.”

CARE Network providers meet annually to connect with the Kempe Center and participate in a training that incorporates the newest research on evaluating child abuse and neglect. The Kempe Center also regularly surveys CARE Network providers to understand their needs and adapt the training to provide the most relevant resources. In a survey distributed to the first cohort, many providers expressed an interest in increasing their behavioral health training.

“Behavioral health is definitely one of my weaker areas,” Dr. Vader said. “When I was studying years ago, pediatricians didn’t talk much about the social determinants of health.”

Though Dr. Vader has a behavioral health specialist at her practice, she was eager to broaden her knowledge. On April 29, 2021, the second annual CARE Network provider training focused on addressing this gap.

The second group of CARE Network providers received their first training May 2-3, 2021. Like the first cohort, this group of providers are located in cities and towns across the state. Unlike their predecessors, this group includes 17 behavioral health providers in additional to 20 medical providers. This cohort will join the Network with Dr. Vader and her colleagues this coming July for a follow up training.

Dr. Vader is thrilled to witness the expansion of the CARE Network’s expertise and resources. She is hopeful for the impact it will have in the state.

“One of the components of the CARE Network that I think new providers will find most useful is the mentorship that it provides. You feel like you are part of a community that’s doing the same thing you’re doing. It’s empowering,” said Dr. Vader.

As the CARE Network continues to grow, they are actively seeking to partner with community organizations and agencies across the state. These partnerships will allow the Kempe Center to create a broad field of health care and behavioral health professionals which will become an integral part of the safety net for children in Colorado.

“When we don’t have the resources, we go to the Kempe Center,” said Dr. Vader. “We can send over a report and get pretty instant expert feedback. We’re so far away from these accessing these resources in person, but the CARE Network makes it so much easier.”

By supporting The Kempe Foundation, you allow Kempe Professionals to continue forming partnerships and expanding their reach to benefit more children and families in Colorado. Click here to get involved today.

Elevating Expert Voices During Child Abuse Prevention Month 

During Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Kempe Foundation joins organizations across the country to share stories and strategies of child abuse and neglect prevention. This month is a meaningful opportunity for all of us to engage in conversations with experts, policy makers and community members about how we can work together to strengthen families to prevent child abuse and neglect. To elevate these important conversations, the Foundation connected with our Kempe Center experts to hear about their work and what Child Abuse Prevention Month means to them.

Rashaan Ford, MD – Child Abuse Pediatrician with the Kempe Center’s Child Protection Team 

The Foundation sat down with Rashaan Ford, MD to learn about the Kempe Center’s Child Protection Team. Ford serves as a pediatrician on the Child Protection Team, a multidisciplinary group that provides assessment and evaluation for children and families where there are concerns about maltreatment, abuse or neglect. 

Learn more about Dr. Ford’s work and the Child Protection Team below.

Dr. Kathi Wells on Child Abuse Prevention Month 

The Kempe Center‘s Executive Director Dr. Kathi Wells highlights a challenging year and for families. Dr. Wells emphasizes the importance of this work saying, “Kempe’s mission of strengthening families, communities and the systems that serve them is more vital now than ever.” 

As Dr. Wells says in the video above, “At Kempe, every month is Child Abuse Prevention Month.” Learn more about how you can continue participating in Child Abuse Prevention Month with the Kempe Foundation here.

 

An Update on Fostering Healthy Futures

 

For nearly two decades, Heather Taussig, PhD and her colleagues have produced promising results through the Kempe Center’s Fostering Healthy Futures program. Fostering Healthy Futures (FHF) is a positive youth development program that employs 1:1 mentoring, and group-based skills training to promote healthy youth development and reduce trauma-related symptoms and behaviors among youths facing adversity. Since the program’s launch, it has consistently progressed and promoted positive outcomes for children and teens in Colorado and beyond.

As the FHF program continues to evolve, we are optimistic about the new partnerships and funding sources that will bring more opportunities for its expansion. We recently connected with Jessica Corvinus, Director of Dissemination for the FHF program, to learn more about what’s ahead.

New Partnerships

For years, the Fostering Healthy Futures program has been a service provided directly through the Kempe Center. In order to expand the program’s reach to include more children, youth and families, FHF has shifted their focus to training, implementation and dissemination. 

In this growth phase, it is important that FHF is intentional about the organizations they select to be the stewards of the program. In order to identify sites that would execute this program successfully, the Kempe Center performs a readiness assessment on each prospective organization. This assessment accounts for the organization’s values, capacity and potential to successfully run and sustain the FHF program. 

Most recently, FHF has partnered with Colorado-based social services organizations Lutheran Family Services and Adoption Options. After being evaluated through FHF’s readiness assessment, these organizations were selected due to their enthusiasm, commitment and ability to successfully run the program. Following training from the FHF team, Lutheran Family Services and Adoption Options will begin implementing the program in the fall of 2021. 

Increased Funding

To ensure that new organizations are successful in their implementation of FHF, the Kempe Foundation has secured program funding from a variety of sources. One of these funding sources is the Tony Grampsas Youth Services Program Grant (TGYS) through the Colorado Department of Human Services. This statutory program provides funding through grants to local organizations for prevention, intervention and education programs to youth and their families. The TGYS grant will fund the implementation of FHF at Lutheran Family Services and Adoption Options in the fall, as well as support FHF staff through these training and dissemination efforts. 

In addition to the TGYS grant, FHF is hopeful that they will qualify for funding through the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA). In order to qualify for this funding, FHF had to receive a certain rating from the Title IV- E Prevention Services Clearinghouse – a rating system specifically designed for FFPSA. 

A program is rated on the quality of the program design and the outcomes of their studies and is reimbursed if they fit into the top two tiers of the rating system. The ratings include well-supported, supported, promising and does not meet criteria. Because the FHF Preteen program conducted two randomized controlled trials with demonstrated short- and long-term effects, it has been awarded a rating of well-supported, which should allow it to qualify for funding through FFPSA.

Looking Ahead

As we look to the future, we are hopeful that FHF will continue to expand to serve more children, youth and families across the country. In order to make this happen, FHF will need to build out a research and dissemination infrastructure to guarantee stable, successful growth. The Kempe Foundation is committed to supporting the Kempe Center as they advance this work. As the potential for more federal funding comes through FFPSA, it is incumbent upon the Foundation to raise money for FHF and the Kempe Center so that we can continue to provide youth with access to positive, empowering, and growth-promoting programming.

An Update on Kempe’s Trauma-Responsive Implementation & Practice Program

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought persistent anxiety to Colorado’s children and families. In uncertain times like these, trauma-informed care is crucial. The Kempe Center has made great strides in training and implementing this necessary care through the Trauma-Responsive Implementation and Practice (TRIP) Program, led by Dr. Evelin Gomez. This program fosters healthy, safe and responsive environments in children, youth and family serving systems across the state. Over the past few months, TRIP has made some notable progress. The Kempe Foundation is pleased to highlight some of this progress below:

Colorado Cross-Systems Training Institute
In collaboration with the Office of Behavioral Health, The Kempe Center is implementing trauma-responsive trainings for the Colorado Cross-Systems Training Institute (CSTI). Using the TRIP model, Kempe professionals developed trauma-responsive content and coaching for CSTI’s wide-reaching audience. These instructor-led (currently virtual) and self-paced web-based trainings are targeted to all professionals who work alongside children. This spring, they will provide training and coaching for school professionals on the Trauma-Responsive Schools Theory of Change Toolkit they co-authored.

NCTSN Breakthrough Collaborative
On a national level, Kempe professionals participated in an 18-month collaborative led by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN). This collaborative was a call to educators around the country to keep children in the classroom. Research revealed that referrals, the term used for sending children to the principal’s office, are not a trauma-informed practice. Kemper Elementary School, located in the Montezuma Cortez School District, was enthusiastic about joining this collaborative with the Kempe Center. Kempe provided coaching, consultation and training to the school’s staff on how to implement trauma-informed care into their discipline. When these trauma-informed, individualized strategies were put into place, the school’s referrals decreased by 80%.

Aurora Public Schools
Many schools have behavioral intervention plans (BIP) and functional behavioral analysis (FBA) approaches that aren’t fully trauma-responsive and culturally informed. To improve their practices, Aurora Public Schools invited Kempe professionals to direct a workgroup to overhaul their BIP and FBA systems. The intent is to implement strategies and procedures to focus on regulation and be more individualized, culturally responsive, and cognizant of students’ trauma backgrounds and triggers.

Rite of Passage
Rite of Passage is a nationwide network of residential treatment centers which provides programs that empower youth and families to succeed. The specific center, based out of Arizona center, serves as a home and school for children who have lived through adverse experiences. After doing an assessment of the organization’s needs, Kempe’s professionals recommended training everyone, from educators to case workers to cafeteria staff, on trauma-informed care. In order to make sure this education was thorough and sustained, Kempe trained managers, directors, and supervisors to provide ongoing trainings to staff and new hires.

Challenges for Future
Looking to the future, there are a few key challenges that Kempe professionals acknowledge. Implementing trauma-informed care requires organizational policy change. Without support from legislators, organizations don’t have the funds to support this work on their own. Further, there is much work to be done on identifying metrics and best practices for evaluation of trauma informed approaches, implementation and dissemination. To ensure that Kempe is able to address these challenges and continue this work, please consider donating to The Kempe Foundation. Your donation will go towards pushing child-focused policies forward, implementing trauma-informed care, and creating a better future for Colorado’s children and families.

Q&A with Susan Payne, Founder of Safe2Tell

The Kempe Foundation 2020 Luncheon: Championing Healthy Childhoods will celebrate the professionals working every day to ensure children have the opportunity to develop and grow in safe, healthy and nurturing environments, and to inspire community action to keep children safe and healthy for generations to come.

One of those professionals is Susan Payne, a 28-year law enforcement veteran, retired special agent and Founder of the Safe2Tell prevention initiative, developed as a response to the Columbine tragedy. She is also Safe2Tell’s former Executive Director and Special Agent in Charge of Safe Communities and Safe Schools for the Colorado Attorney General and Department of Public Safety.

Susan, who was recently appointed to the National School Safety Task Force and is an Expert Adviser to the Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center, has worked extensively with the Secret Service on Protecting America’s Schools and participated in the Bystander study of 2004, the 2018 Secret Service Guide for Preventing School Violence, and the 2019 U.S. Secret Service Analysis and Comprehensive Study. Susan has been asked to speak at the White House on several occasions but most recently after the tragedy in Parkland. She also works with the Department of Homeland Security’s National Clearinghouse for School Safety.

We look forward to welcoming Susan as our 2020 Luncheon keynote speaker. In advance of the event, she is offering some insights into her work, experience and how Safe2Tell and other organizations, such as Kempe, are working together to provide our kids with safe schools.

What prompted you to start Safe2Tell, and how has it helped since its introduction in Colorado schools?

Susan: Safe2Tell was created out of necessity. After the horrifying shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado that left 15 people dead, many more wounded and countless others’ lives changed forever, Colorado’s Attorney General Ken Salazar and Governor Bill Owens convened a statewide study to develop a plan for preventing a shooting of this magnitude in the future. As a direct result, the Safe2Tell Initiative was created: To provide an anonymous venue for parents, students, teachers, school administrators, and law enforcement to share information.

Safe2Tell is the first framework for prevention and early intervention. The program helps identify and create a multi-disciplinary team in every school in Colorado. This unique, yet sophisticated approach enables information sharing between law enforcement and teams at schools with a systematic approach to accountability and follow-up. A core element is building a positive culture and climate and a protected method of communication for youth to share information concerning their safety or the safety of others.

One of the findings in our research showed that in 81% of violent incidents in U.S. schools, someone other than the attacker/actor knew it was going to happen but did not have an informed way to report it.

Safe2Tell has created a safe, anonymous mode for all individuals to report such information, and has helped to prevent not only school shootings, but also bullying, suicide, substance abuse and other health concerns.

I’m proud to say Safe2Tell is now keeping our children and schools safer across the entire state of Colorado.

What are you doing at schools with Safe2Tell?

Susan: If you want to truly focus on intervention and prevention, you have to start at the epicenter — schools. For a lot of kids, school is the only place they feel safe. Safe2Tell works proactively with schools to help its teachers, administrators and others, through extensive education, outreach, training, and presentations, to know the indicators and signs of potential violence and other youth concerns, to be knowledgeable about resources and how to intervene.
Safe2Tell also works very closely with other key stakeholders, like Kempe, which is making a crucial impact through research and multi-disciplinary approaches to find solutions to better protect our children and youth.

Together, we are truly creating an environment of ‘Not just see something, say something… but also adults DO something.’ There really is strength in numbers, and we want to educate as many people as we can, so these life-changing issues don’t get brushed under the rug.

What are we as communities, organizations and schools doing to prevent school shootings and accelerated mental health crises from happening?

Susan: Prevention is the key. Being informed on childhood trauma — how to prevent it and how to recognize signs of such trauma is absolutely necessary in order to educate and empower our youth on how to stay safe.

It’s really scary stuff but we’re trying to make it not so scary by offering practical and proactive intervention and prevention tips. By operationalizing those things, we can reduce the violence and number of traumatic events taking place in our schools.

What do you hope people walk away from your presentation having learned?

Susan: We can all agree that we don’t want bad things to happen to our children. The key is working together to intervene and prevent potential violence and other youth issues. Together, we can provide more hope and health. Most people truly want to make a difference, they just don’t know how. Our goal is to show them how.

Visit the Safe2Tell website to learn more about its programs. You can also hear Susan speak at Kempe’s 2020 Luncheon on Friday, March 13 in Denver. Tickets are available here.