UNM People Changing Worlds: UNMH Child Abuse Response Team
By Drea Kendall
Since 2004, the UNM Children’s Hospital Child Abuse Response Team (CART) has served as a critical resource for the children of New Mexico. CART is a multidisciplinary group of professionals who provide consultative services, timely diagnosis and pediatric care for children in New Mexico who are alleged victims of child physical abuse and/or neglect.
Led by Dr. Leslie Strickler, DO, Medical Director and Pediatric Hospitalist, CART’s services are made possible by the outstanding work of a team of professionals from both the UNM School of Medicine and the UNM Children’s Hospital. CART is comprised of three physicians, a forensic dentist, a registered nurse, and three social workers. The program’s collaborations with other child advocate departments are extensive, including the Para Los Ninos Program, the New Mexico Pediatric Emergency Department (PED), New Mexico’s Children, Youth and Families Department, and New Mexico Children’s Court. During the academic year of 2010 – 2011, CART team members testified in court more than 50 times.
Child maltreatment is a considerable social and public health problem in the United States. In 2008, data collected from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System [NCANDS] indicated 3.3 million referrals of alleged maltreatment of over 6 million children were received by children’s protective services (CPS); for approximately 800,000 children, allegations of maltreatment were substantiated by investigation. During the year 2009 in New Mexico, 30,985 referrals alleging child maltreatment were made. 15,806 of these were screened in for investigation and of these cases, nearly 5,000 children were determined to have been victims of child maltreatment (CYFD Protective Services Factbook, 2009).
During the 2010-2011 academic year, CART provided consultative service in 329 cases. CART fields countless telephone consultations, often daily.
The dedication of this small team is exceptional. In addition to providing consultative and diagnostic services and compassionate care for children, CART has developed a training program for new Investigative Case Workers with Child Protective Services that detail findings regarding physical abuse and neglect in order to better assess children in the field. Further, CART has also instituted an educational program for new parents aimed at preventing abusive head trauma, also commonly known as Shaken Baby Syndrome. This initiative includes distributing information as well as offering an instructional video for new parents to watch while they are in the hospital after the birth of a baby.
CART’s efforts provide an essential benefit to the UNM Children’s Hospital and have changed worlds in the greater community. The program continues to ensure that alleged pediatric victims of abuse or neglect are diagnosed correctly and receive the most appropriate and highest quality medical care. The recognition of abuse is a crucial first step in ultimate prevention.
With your help, CART can continue to grow as the only center of excellence for child maltreatment in the state of New Mexico. Please consider supporting CART with your gift to the UNM Children’s Hospital at CART. For more information, please contact, Dr. Leslie Strickler, DO at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://hospitals.unm.edu/children/pss/cart.shtml.