The Team for Children at Risk consists of a physician director, two additional physicians, a nurse practitioner, clinic coordinator, and masters level social workers of Arkansas Children’s Hospital. They provide gentle evaluations of physically and sexually abused children, as well as attention to safety, crisis intervention for their families, and appropriate referrals.
Their outpatient services are provided at the Arkansas Children’s House, the only center in Arkansas devoted to the medical evaluation and management of physically and sexually abused children. Since it opened in 1992, over 6,000 children have received comprehensive evaluations and management. Located on the block in front of Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the Children’s House is a cozy red brick facility that provides an appropriate place for the evaluation of abused children. The interior features homey furnishings in a pleasant waiting room, as well as child-friendly exam and interview rooms. The atmosphere is warmer and more reassuring than one finds in a hospital emergency department, state agency office or police station, creating a needed sense of safety and security for the children.
Children who are suspected of having suffered abuse are referred to the Children’s House by law enforcement agencies, prosecuting attorneys, courts, community physicians, the Arkansas Department of Human Services and health departments. Professionals from these agencies work together with professionals of the Children’s House.
The medical evaluations in the Children’s House provide both health and evidentiary (forensic) information. The sexual abuse examinations are performed using a colposcope, a state of the art device that provides magnification. The post-exam management utilizes a comprehensive medical, social, and psychological approach.
The Team for Children at Risk provides consultations on all physically abused children requiring hospitalization at ACH, about 180 infants and young children each year. We relate closely with law enforcement and the Arkansas Department of Human Services on these cases.
The Team also administers an organized training curriculum for medical students and resident physicians in the evaluation of physically and sexually abused children. An attorney member of the Team provides consultations to the residents and team members and presents teaching conferences regarding court testimony. A survey revealed that our residents have excellent attitudes toward their responsibilities to testify in court.