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 three specialties, and in February 2013 we are set to open a new, free-standing, 265,000 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 the 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 Stine TLC Clinic: Transforming the Lives of Children
When victims of child abuse are placed in out-of-home foster care, their lives often lack the stability and continuity they need for healthy development, especially given the variety of medical, psychological, and developmental problems from which they suffer. Under the aegis of the Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital, the Center for the Protection of Children will establish a primary care clinic that will serve as a "medical home" for victims of child abuse who are in out-of-home care.
The TLC (Transforming the Lives of Children) Clinic will provide comprehensive primary care services for medical diagnosis and treatment, care coordination for subspecialty care (such as neurosurgery, physical therapy, nutrition, etc.), psychosocial support services, legal advocacy (through the existing medico-legal partnership with Penn State Law's Center on Children and the Law), and assorted community services. Providing these much needed interventions can be truly transformative for children whose conditions often worsen as they are moved from home to home.
The goal of the TLC Clinic is to help ensure that children who have been abused are not re-victimized by failures in the system, but instead have a base for building their future.
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.
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 two years ago and includes Pennsylvania’s only web-based tool for reporting suspected abuse. In addition to making the public more aware of this valuable resource, the next important step is to enhance the online capabilities of this tool so that any concerned citizen can securely and directly report suspected abuse to child protection professionals.