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News from The Tree House CAC - August 2017
Reporting Child Abuse: The Process and What to Expect
If you thought a child was drowning you would take immediate action to help that child. Your reaction should be the same if you suspect a child is being abused, but for many, reporting suspected child abuse is more difficult. At The Tree House we are often approached with questions such as: I think a child is being abused. What do I do about it? Obviously, you should (and must) report your concerns, but we know that many people are worried about what happens after the report is made and how that will impact their own lives. Here, we hope to demystify the process for you.
In Maryland, all people, including all professionals, are mandated to make an oral report to the Department of Health and Human Services/Child Welfare Services (DHHS/CWS) as soon as possible when they suspect a child has been or is being maltreated. In the case of abuse, a report should be made to DHHS/CWS or the Montgomery County Police Department . When making a report to DHHS/CWS you will be asked to provide a variety of information about the child (such as name, age, address, etc.). You will also be asked to explain your concerns. They will ask for your name and contact information in case they need more information from you, but you are not required to give your name. While the name of the person reporting the suspected abuse is confidential and cannot be disclosed without a court order, it is sometimes possible for a person to figure out the identity of the reporter. This should not to discourage you from saving a child, but you should be aware of this possibility. As long as the report is made in good faith, the reporter is immune from civil liability or criminal penalty. If you ever think a child is in immediate danger you should not hesitate to call 911. If you are dealing with the child in a professional capacity you will also need to file a written report.
After you make the report, CWS will determine whether the reported issue meets the legal criteria for child abuse and neglect. If the case is accepted, either there will be an investigation or, for lower risk cases, CWS will work collaboratively with the family to provide services without the threat of a formal finding of abuse or neglect. Please know that CWS cannot disclose details of any investigation to you.
When it seems as if a child is in danger of being harmed, or has already been seriously abused or neglected in their home, the child may be placed in protective custody. In those cases, CWS will place the child with a relative or in foster care. In the most serious cases of abuse and neglect in the home, a child will be removed permanently from the parents.
CWS may bring the child you were concerned about to The Tree House. We will care for the child in several ways. Our forensic interviewer will interview the child, our child abuse certified pedicatrician will examine the child, and our mental health team will provide the child with trauma-focused therapy. In addition, our victim advocate will assist the child and her non-offending family members by getting them other needed services, as well as helping them navigate the court process. Here, because of your concern, we will help the child begin to heal.
Staff Spotlight: An Ongoing Series
Dr. Jenna Calton grew up in Tampa, Florida. She completed undergraduate degrees in psychology and women’s studies at The University of Florida. During college, Dr. Calton volunteered at the Alachua County Crisis Center and Peaceful Paths Domestic Abuse Network, where her interest in working with individuals who have experienced trauma began. Dr. Calton earned her PhD in clinical psychology from George Mason University. She completed her clinical internship at Children’s National Medical Center, with rotations in primary care, the adolescent psychiatry unit, child development, obesity, sleep, and the consultation-liaison service. During her doctoral training, Dr. Calton completed a clinical practicum at The Tree House, where she found a passion for working with children who have experienced trauma. She was thrilled by the opportunity to return to The Tree House for her post-doctoral fellowship.
When asked why she decided to work at The Tree House Dr. Calton said, "I love working with children, and I cannot think of anything more important than helping them recover from trauma.”
To meet more of our staff click here.
One of our wonderful 2017 Tree House Tour de Cookie Sponsors, FITREC, is holding a 5K run and walk event at Seneca Creek State Park on October 14th, 2017. They are donating 20% of the profits from this event to The Tree House!
We'll be there. Come join us!
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