Child Protection Program | Programs and Services


Child Protection Clinical Services (CPCS) includes medical, developmental, and psychosocial services provided by physicians, social workers, and nurse practitioners in the outpatient setting.  At present, CPCS provides these services in two specific clinics:  a Crisis Response Clinic and a Foster Care Clinic.   Whether referring a child to the Crisis Response Clinic or the Foster Care Clinic, one of our CPCS social workers will complete an initial Intake and, together with our Child Protection medical providers determine the most effective and efficient response route.  To refer a child to either one of our outpatient clinics, please call 617-355-7979 and ask to speak to the CPCS Intake social worker to make a referral.

CRISIS RESPONSE CLINIC – Helping Families From the Start

Children suspected of being sexually abused or who exhibit problematic sexual behavior are often referred for medical examinations, mental health evaluations and/or treatment and forensic interviews to gain a clearer understanding of what has occurred. 


The systems that serve children and their families are complex, overlap and can be a source of confusion not only for children and their families, but also for the providers that are seeking medical and therapeutic interventions. 


Triage of potential sexual abuse cases by clinical and medical staff in the Child Protection Clinical Services (CPCS) program at Boston Children’s Hospital, in consultation with the Child Protection Team consultation service, provides a significant benefit for children and families by ensuring that children are directed to the most appropriate resource as quickly as possible. 


Too often, children spend unnecessarily long hours sitting in hospital emergency departments (ED) when they can be seen in the CPCS clinic or at a community-based child advocacy center (CAC). Conversely, some children require medical and mental health intervention in an ED following the disclosure of an acute sexual assault and, without appropriate triage, important forensic evidence collection and crisis intervention opportunities may be lost.

Things to think about when accessing the Child Protection Program at Boston Children’s Hospital

The following factors can all help you determine which medical route of intervention is most appropriate:

  • Age of the child
  • Amount of time that has passed since the sexual assault
  • Emotional stability of the child


We may recommend that the child be seen emergently for acute medical intervention and possible collection of forensic evidence:

  • If the assault occurred within 72 hours (three days)  for a child who is less than 12 years of age
  • If the assault occurred within 120 hours (five days) for a child who is older than 12 years of age

Referring a child to Child Protection Clinical Services Clinic or a community-based Child Advocacy Center may be the most reasonable option in the following circumstances:

  • If the assault occurred after 72 hours (three days) for a child younger than 12 years of age
  • If the assault occurred after 120 hours (five days) for a child older than 12 years of age.


If you are a medical provider or clinician working with the child and family, you are a mandated reporter, and may be advised to file a 51A with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) on behalf of the child.


The CPCS medical providers have all received special training in the subspecialty of child abuse pediatrics. They are skilled in examining children of all ages with child abuse or sexual abuse concerns.


When indicated, our child abuse medical providers will obtain appropriate laboratory/radiographic testing to further evaluate for the presence of concerning infections or injuries. The results of the testing are communicated back to the referring provider and caretaker. 


CPCS mental health clinicians provide support to parents and providers in order to aid families in coping with the aftermath of sexual assault.

Clinicians provide psychosocial and risk assessment when a concern of sexual assault or non-normative sexual behavior is present, as well as provide psycho-education to parents around a child’s response to sexual assault, sexual behavior and building safety and stability in a child’s environment. 


If warranted, clinicians assist families with connecting to outside providers for more extended evaluation or for ongoing mental health treatment with trauma-trained mental health clinicians.



CPCS staff may offer expert consultation on symptoms of trauma, normative child development, navigation of the child protective service delivery system, and community resources to care providers and parents.


The CPCS team also provides training to the hospital and local community agencies, mental health providers and educators.

AWAKE Project

The AWAKE (Advocacy for Women and Kids in Emergency) Program at Boston Children's Hospital offers intimate partner violence (IPV) services to patients, parents of patients and employees.

What does AWAKE do?
We can provide you with a safe and confidential place to talk and share your experiences. Our services are free, confidential and are offered in English.

Has your partner ever:

·         made you feel unsafe at home?

·         blamed you for things out of your control?

·         said things that made you feel bad about yourself?

·         threatened to hurt you or someone you love?

·         tried to control your time and money?

·         forced you to unwillingly perform sexual acts?

·         made you feel manipulated and trapped?

·         isolated you from other relationships?

If you are in a domestic violence emergency and need immediate assistance call 911.

AWAKE services are available Monday through Friday 8:30a-5p and can be reached through calling 617-355-6000 and asking to have AWAKE paged


For 24/7 emotional support and resources in Massachusetts call SAFELINK at 877-785-2020

For all other states, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.


Remember, nobody deserves to be abused and you are not alone. Please contact us for help.


Our team is here to address the immediate medical, dental and developmental needs of children who have newly entered the Department of Children and Families (DCF) custody and to assist their caregivers in learning about and responding to the unique child that has entered their care. It has long been recognized that kids who are placed into foster care often have significant unmet physical, dental, emotional/behavioral, and developmental health needs that continue even after they are placed in foster care or short term assessment programs.   Children whose needs continue to go unaddressed are at much higher risk for additional problems that can lead to increased likelihood of a disrupted placement resulting in poorer outcomes for those children over time.  Our services are offered in a two-appointment model; with the first visit scheduled within 7 days of placement followed by the second appointment within 30 days of placement, in keeping with DCF’s Medical Exam Policy.

The Foster Care Clinic Provides:

·         Medical examinations by medical providers specializing in child abuse

·         Immunizations when clinically indicated

·         Dental exams and treatment

·         Developmental and behavioral screenings and referral

·           Psycho-education and support for foster parents

·         Psychosocial support and screening of referred children by social workers

·         Coordination  with DCF to obtain medical records in order to facilitate referral to an ongoing primary care provider

·         A comprehensive report is provided to DCF after the second appointment which summarizes the medical, dental and mental health recommendations and needed follow-up. 

At the 7 day visit… 

» The patient will be examined by a physician or nurse practitioner specializing in child maltreatment.

» Acute medical needs will be addressed and referrals for further intervention may be provided.

» Foster parents and/or patient will meet with a clinical social worker to discuss any psycho-social issues which may require immediate intervention.

» Behavioral checklists and screening tools may be offered.

» A comprehensive dental examination at Boston Children’s Hospital Dental Clinic can be facilitated.

At the 30 day visit…

» The patient will receive a follow up medical exam, immunizations and labs if clinically indicated, and for those children ages 0-7 years old, a developmental screening will be offered.

» Results from completed and scored behavioral checklists will be discussed with foster parents and patient.

» Recommendations and referrals for primary care, psychiatric services, Early Intervention, further developmental testing or any other clinically indicated service will be provided.

» After the 30 day visit, feedback is provided to the Department of Children and Families (DCF).