Child Advocacy

Mission

The mission of the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh is to protect children and promote healthy families through excellence in:

  • Assessment of child maltreatment
  • Medical and social care for vulnerable children
  • Collaboration with child-protection agencies
  • Education and research

Overview

Physicians of the Division of Child Advocacy have responsibilities of medical service, teaching, research, and administrative leadership for the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. The purposes of the clinical center are: (a) to ensure that injured, vulnerable patients receive the highest quality assessment for concerns of maltreatment; and (b) to ensure that there are ongoing medical and social services for children who have been abused or are at risk of abuse.

CAC combines two separate but complementary programs: (a) a traditional advocacy center model, including forensic interviewing and support of a community-based multidisciplinary team approach to child abuse; and (b) a hospital-based Child Protection Team program and an outpatient clinic for evaluation and treatment of children in whom there is concern about abuse or neglect.

Clinical Services Goals and Objectives

  • To provide consultative services for children receiving care at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, including forensic medical and social evaluations of children who may be victims of child abuse or neglect. This service involves collaboration with other physicians on the medical staff, including specialists from trauma, neurosurgery, orthopedics, radiology, ophthalmology, emergency medicine, behavioral health, and pediatrics
  • To work with professionals from community-based child-protection agencies and to support the judicial system in the protection of children. This includes providing objective medical information through consultative reports and legal testimony for:

(a) the judicial system, both in family court and criminal court settings; (b) professionals working with Child Protective Services (CPS); (c) law-enforcement agencies; and (d) district attorney offices.

  • To provide pediatric medical care to vulnerable children in the child-protection system. This includes primary care, if needed, for children in foster care and kinship care; a temporary medical home for children in high-risk social situations, especially when CPS or police intervention is ongoing; identification of ongoing developmental and behavioral problems in children who have been identified as maltreated and/or neglected; and referrals for vulnerable children to appropriate support services in the community.

Education Goals and Objectives

  • To teach medical students, pediatric residents, and fellows, as well as Children’s Hospital medical staff and employees, the principles of recognizing, evaluating, and reporting child maltreatment
  • To work with other physicians in recognizing patterns of child maltreatment and meeting the requirement of mandated reporting of maltreatment
  • To strengthen community relations through outreach and education for child-protection professionals and to participate in community education aimed at reducing violence toward and injury to children

Research Goals and Objectives

  • To improve the scientific knowledge base to allow for accurate and early diagnosis and treatment of victims of child maltreatment
  • To collaborate with community organization to decrease the rate of unsafe sleep deaths in Allegheny County