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The Child Protection Program (CPP) at Boston Children's Hospital was established in 1970 by a multi-disciplinary team of professionals who shared a commitment to improve the health and well being of children by addressing the issues of family violence, child maltreatment and neglect. CPP's overarching mission since the time of its inception has been simply to assure that children who are suspected of having been abused or neglected, receive appropriate care and protection.
CPP houses three distinct programs which operate in collaboration to respond to incidents of family violence, suspected child abuse and neglect by providing a range of services including:
1. Evaluation of children referred to the hospital for suspected abuse or neglect and referrals to appropriate services at Children's Hospital and elsewhere.
2. Psycho-educational and clinical services to parents
3. Expert consultation to clinical staff regarding protective issues that may emerge in the treatment of their patients
4. Case coordination with the Department of Children and Families and other agencies
5. The provision of expert testimony in child protection cases
6. Advocacy services to battered women and their children
7. Training for hospital staff
8. Community outreach, prevention and advocacy
The CPP team includes members from the departments of General Pediatrics, Social Work, Nursing, and Psychiatry, and the Office of General Counsel at Boston Children's.
Our team also includes a nurse at Boston Children's who functions as a liaison with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF).
Each member of the CPP plays an important role in our mission to work for child safety and provide care for Children's patients who may have been abused or neglected.
We also work to increase the awareness, knowledge and prevention of child abuse at Boston Children's and within the local community.
The Child Protection Program:
Boston Children’s Hospital has a deep and abiding commitment to ensuring the safety of all children in our care. In fact, providing safe and appropriate care in a safe and protective environment is the absolute paramount priority of everyone at Boston Children's.
We have a number of programs and services in place whose mission is to ensure that every member of the Boston Children’s community is knowledgeable about and vigilant in their role in ensuring the safety of our patients.
Boston Children's has a hospital-wide program to train all staff and employees to recognize signs of child abuse and to educate them about internal and external resources and support services for patients and families who have experienced abuse.
Boston Children's Hospital’s Child Protection Team is composed of physicians, attorneys, psychologists, social workers, nurses, nurse practitioners and advocates. The team provides 24-hour, on-call coverage, expert consultation services, professional training and case-specific support to hospital staff who suspect maltreatment or abuse of a patient. The team also includes a Nurse Liaison to the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.
In addition, a staff member from our Office of Patient Relations is available around the clock to families that may have any questions or concerns about the appropriateness of the care their child has received.
Through the Office of Clinician Support, services are available for clinical staff who need guidance on clinical or professional matters. This could include supporting a clinician who had suspicions or concerns about a colleague behaving inappropriately with patients. Confidentiality of all parties is respected, however, information is shared with appropriate authorities if a threat of harm or abuse to the clinician him/herself, staff, patients or families is present or suspected.
In addition to the ethical imperative to address directly and quickly any concerns about inappropriate care or abuse of a patient, it is a state law.
All Boston Children’s clinicians are trained on “51As.” Under state law, (Massachusetts General Laws Section 51A) all clinicians are “mandated reporters.” The law states that “(a) A mandated reporter who, in his professional capacity, has reasonable cause to believe that a child is suffering physical or emotional injury resulting from: (i) abuse inflicted upon him which causes harm or substantial risk of harm to the child's health or welfare, including sexual abuse; (ii) neglect, including malnutrition; (iii) physical dependence upon an addictive drug at birth, shall immediately communicate with the department orally and, within 48 hours, shall file a written report with the department detailing the suspected abuse or neglect; or (iv) being a sexually exploited child; or (v) being a human trafficking victim as defined by section 20M of chapter 233.”
The law goes on to say “If a mandated reporter is a member of the staff of a medical or other public or private institution, school or facility, the mandated reporter may instead notify the person or designated agent in charge of such institution, school or facility who shall become responsible for notifying the department in the manner required by this section.” In Boston Children’s case, that designated agent is the Child Protection Team member on call, who is available to staff and families 24 hours a day.
Child and family safety is everyone’s responsibility. Please contact our Office of Patient Relations if at any time you have questions or concerns at 617-355-7673 or 617-355-6369 after hours and on weekends.
Child abuse is a major public health concern that transcends racial, ethnic, religious and socioeconomic boundaries. It’s been found to correlate with problems of violence, substance abuse, anxiety disorders, depression, suicide and other psychopathology.
Studies suggest that the incidence of certain comorbidities are correlated with duration and severity of abuse, suggesting that reports of abuse to appropriate child protection agencies may have long-term, as well as immediate, health benefits for the victim.
The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”