Medical Expertise in Diagnosing
Child Abuse & Neglect

Health care professionals, most notably board-certified child abuse pediatricians (CAPs), are essential partners in protecting children. These professionals, when timely and meaningfully engaged by child welfare professionals and law enforcement, provide critical expertise to respond to childhood trauma, and to guard against both under and over-diagnosis of child maltreatment.

With support from Casey Family Programs, Rachel Berger, MD, MPH (Chief, Division of Child Advocacy, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh), Cindy W. Christian, MD (The Anthony A. Latini Chair in the

Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) and Cathleen Palm (Founder, the Center for Children’s Justice) authored this research brief examining the statutes and/or administrative policies of eleven states (Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas) and the City of Los Angeles to understand whether and how child protection statutes or administrative policies:

  1. ESTABLISH an expectation that a child, who was reported as a suspected victim of child maltreatment, is referred for a medical evaluation; and whether there are any added requirements related to children with specific types of injuries or demographics (e.g., infants and toddlers);
  2. ARTICULATE the specific design of a child abuse medical evaluation and consultation program that utilizes health care providers with specialized training in child maltreatment (e.g., CAPs);
  3. IDENTIFY a designated funding source for medical evaluation and consultation; and
  4. CREATE a (state or local) child protection medical director; and if so, what this position is specifically responsible for.

To read the full brief, click here or to read a summary click here.

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