Children’s Fund, a San Bernardino County nonprofit, has increased support for abused children through a partnership with San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. The $1 million support was awarded over a three-year period for increased quality medical services at the Children’s Assessment Center in San Bernardino County, which provides care for the most vulnerable children who have been severely neglected, and physically and sexually abused.
The Children’s Assessment Center (CAC) treats children ages 0-18, as well as developmentally delayed young adults, from every area of San Bernardino County who are suspected victims of physical and sexual abuse, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic status. Last year, the Center treated over 2,000 children from our own communities.
“Within the United States, there are only about 300 child abuse doctors,” says Dr. Amy Young, the Medical Director at the CAC. “The best way for the CAC to secure more child abuse medical staff is to offer Forensic Pediatric Fellowships, essentially growing and retaining local expertise.”
The large grant from the San Manuel Tribe has funded three new Forensic Pediatric Fellows, one each year for the past three years.
Forensic Pediatricians provide a wide variety of services to the children seen at the CAC, but they also provide expert knowledge essential to the diagnosis of child abuse. They serve as resources to law enforcement and legal personnel, and often their expert opinion is the critical factor in the successful prosecution of the abuser. The CAC fellows also provide critical training throughout the county to other professionals charged with providing services to children.
Other medical personnel, including the increased number of nurse practitioners on staff, are receiving on-going training in areas such as abusive head trauma, dental aspects of child abuse, and specialized training for nurse practitioners. Since the beginning of the grant, over 100 training sessions have been attended.
The CAC medical staff share a commitment to increased knowledge and prevention of child abuse. Together, in the last two years, they have conducted over 75 various trainings to child-serving professionals including POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training), and in-service training to Emergency Department staff. In addition, they produced two conferences—the 12th Annual Keep Me Safe Youth Parenting Conference, and the First Annual Awareness in Action conference for social workers.
Child abuse, particularly experienced when children are young, causes stress that can disrupt early brain and physical development, placing mistreated young children at higher risk for health problems as adults.
Children who are abused or neglected also are more likely to repeat the cycle of violence by entering violent relationships as teens and adults or abusing their own children.
At the CAC, victims not only receive treatment for the physical or sexual abuse. The children also receive treatment and referrals for therapy for the trauma they’ve been through.
“Children are society’s most precious asset,” says Dr. Ciriaco “Cid” Pinedo, President & CEO of Children’s Fund. “The support of San Manuel Band of Mission Indians will allow the CAC to increase their capacity and ensure that the services are available to the children who need them.
“With this tremendous financial support, the CAC will be able to continue training their pediatric fellows and move the CAC toward long-term stability.”
Through the coordinated efforts and services provided at the CAC, and with the dedicated support of their community partners and donors, such as the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, the CAC continues to be the preeminent facility of its kind.