Leading the Way to a Safer World for Children
Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital is already ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the nation's top 50 children's hospitals in five specialties, and in February 2013 we opened a new, free-standing, 263,000 square-feet facility dedicated to providing outstanding, compassionate care to the most vulnerable members of our society. In the wake of the child abuse tragedy at Penn State, we are prepared to build on the strong foundation of expertise that has given rise to the Center for the Protection of Children.
The initiatives below leverage Penn State Hershey Center for the Protection of Children's strong interdisciplinary team - comprising healthcare professionals, researchers, educators, lawyers, psychologists, social workers, and bioethicists - and will also enlist communication specialists, eLearning experts, graphic designers, and others.
The Impact of Childhood Trauma
Evidence indicates that early childhood trauma is associated with mental health, developmental, and physical health outcomes that can negatively affect growth and development. Children who suffer abuse have special health care needs, due in part to the stress and trauma they have experienced.
Comprehensive culturally competent medical and mental health care is provided through the TLC Clinic, and includes an understanding of the impact of childhood trauma on children, as well as the micro-culture of children who are in out-of-home placement.
The TLC Clinic (Transforming the Lives of Children) will serve as the "medical home" for children in out-of-home placement, providing comprehensive primary care services that include medical evaluation and treatment as well as psychological assessments and evidence-based therapy.
All physicians are board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics, and as staff physicians of Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital have access to a broad network of subspecialties for treating children with special needs.
Coordination and Longitudinal Care for Children
In coordination with Penn State faculty in psychology and related fields, the TLC Clinic also offers cutting-edge, evidence-based interventions for helping children adapt and heal from trauma they have experienced.
TLC Staff work to ensure
- All care needs (including mental health, developmental, and educational) are identified and addressed.
- Effective and timely communication with child welfare regarding current and future health concerns.
- Health information is readily available for all authorized individuals and agencies.
The TLC clinic accepts all insurance and medical coverage for services rendered. Information on financial and community resources is also available.
- Coordination and continuity of care
- Health record information through one contact
- Medial and mental health assessments throughout placement
- Case consultation with proper documentation for court appearances and safety plan development
- Follow-up with Children and Youth Services, as it pertains to care coordination.
The staff of the TLC clinic works n partnership with Children Youth Services to provide medial and mental health services for the well-being of children in out-of-home placement.
Educating Mandated Reporters: Awareness and Prevention
To address the overwhelming need to prepare individuals to become responsible mandated reporters, the Penn State Hershey Center for the Protection of Children is working to develop, test, and disseminate a multimedia, action-oriented eLearning module to those on the front lines for protecting children.
This multidisciplinary effort involves Penn State faculty with expertise in eLearning, cognitive and educational psychology, graphic and web design, law, medicine, education, database design, and related areas. The goal is to create an evidence-based educational tool that opens people's eyes to the problem of child abuse, and helps them see themselves as agents for protecting children from abuse.
Pilot testing is anticipated to begin in early Fall 2013.
Research and Advocacy
The Center is working to expand the scope and broaden the impact of existing research and advocacy efforts, notably:
- Dr. Mark Dias's Pennsylvania Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention and Awareness Prevention program
- Dr. Benjamin Levi's Look Out for Child Abuse project
- Dr. Mark Feinberg's Family Foundations project
- Lucy Johnston-Walsh's Penn State Dickinson Center on Children and the Law
Additionally, to establish the foundation for an accredited three-year subspecialty training program in child abuse pediatrics, the Center will recruit an additional pediatrician specializing in child abuse, a psychologist with expertise in traumatic stress, and a social science researcher.
By expanding the clinical research and advocacy activities of the Center for the Protection of Children, the Children's Hospital is positioned to both increase the number of experts in the area of child maltreatment and educate the next generation of healthcare professionals so they are prepared to detect and treat victims of child abuse.
Child Abuse Reporting Program
The Look Out for Child Abuse website was launched in 2010 and includes Pennsylvania's only web-based tool for reporting suspected abuse. The CPC has partnered with the Pennsylvania County Commissioners Association to enhance the functionality of Look Out for Child Abuse's online CY47 form for reporting suspected child abuse. In addition to allowing any Pennsylvanian to electronically complete and submit reports of suspected child abuse directly to ChildLine, this expanded eReporting process will increase the efficiency and accuracy of information transfer to secure State databases, help standardize descriptions and classifications of suspected abuse, and facilitate research on reporting practices and patterns.