To promote the safety and well being of Florida’s children by providing medically led multidisciplinary assessment services for children suspected of being abused or neglected.
What are Child Protection Teams
Child Protection Teams are independent, community-based programs that provide expertise in evaluating alleged maltreatments of child abuse and neglect, assessing risk factors, and providing recommendations for interventions to protect children and enhance families’ capacities to provide a safer environment when possible. Child Protection Team services supplement the child protective investigation activities of the Department of Children and Families and law enforcement.
Section 39.303, Florida Statues, authorizes the Children’s Medical Services Program in the Department of Health to develop, maintain, and coordinate Child Protection Team services through contracts with local community-based programs. In 2004 the Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center obtained the contact to administer the Child Protection Team for Bay, Calhoun, Holmes, Gulf, Jackson, and Washington Counties.
Medical Diagnosis and Evaluation: Medical diagnosis and evaluation includes obtaining a medical history and conducting a physical examination that could include x-ray, lab or other diagnostic procedures, performed by a CPT physician, an ARNP or Physician Assistant, when a physical examination of a child is needed to assess allegations of abuse or neglect.
Nursing Assessment: A nursing assessment is an evaluation of a child, performed by a licensed registered nurse, which includes an evaluation of the child’s overall health, medical history, and developmental status. The evaluation may also include the child’s educational status, as well as an evaluation of the child’s environment. The assessment results in a written report that offers recommendations for further team activities or more in depth medical follow-up.
Psychosocial Assessment: A psychosocial assessment is an evaluation of the history of the child and the child’s family system, conducted by a case coordinator or other trained professional. This involves a systematic process of gathering information from which professional conclusions and recommendations regarding issues of possible child maltreatment are formulated. The psychosocial assessment includes separate interviews of all the key members of the immediate family unless specific reasons are documented for why these could not occur, and may include interviews of extended family members or others who directly impact family dynamics. Emphasis is placed on the child and family’s history as a context for the presenting abuse or neglect allegations. The assessment assists in assessing allegations, identifying risk factors in the case, identifying pertinent family dynamics, ascertaining the protective capacity of caretakers and evaluating all of the factors to reach conclusions regarding risk and make recommendations that address the needs of the child and family based on the findings of the assessment.
Specialized Interviews: A specialized interview is an interview with a child or a member of the child’s family for the purpose of gathering clinical data, or other information for assisting with the assessment of alleged child maltreatment. Specialized interviews are information gathering in nature, and include the development of a risk assessment, and may be more flexible, not following an interview protocol. Specialized interviews that will become part of a family psychosocial should also include family history and family functioning when age appropriate. Their primary focus is not for legal purposes; however, they may be used in dependency or criminal cases as determined by Child Legal Services or State Attorney’s offices.
Forensic Interview: A forensic interview is a structured interview to elicit a complete and accurate narrative of facts from the alleged child or adolescent victim in a manner that is legally sound, neutral, and fact finding in nature, to determine whether the child or adolescent has been abused (or is at imminent risk of abuse) and, if so, by whom.
Psychological Evaluations: The Child Protection Team may recommend a psychological evaluation of a child or family member in order to provide a comprehensive assessment of an individual’s emotional, behavioral, psychological, or intellectual functioning. The psychological evaluation must be performed by, or supervised by, a licensed psychologist. These evaluations are particularly helpful in identifying the short and long-term psychological effects of abuse, identifying factors that predispose families to the abuse or neglect of children, and in identifying and determining the appropriate mental health needs and interventions.
Child Protection Team Staffings: The purpose of a Child Protection Team staffing is to assess the alleged maltreatments, safety and risk, family strengths and needs, and to develop recommendations. Cases warranting a Child Protection Team staffing may include, but are not limited to:
1) cases in which there is concern about placement and safety,
2) cases in which there are legal issues needing clarification prior to dependency or criminal court,
3) cases in which professionals involved do not agree,
4) any complex or high risk cases in which a multidisciplinary approach is needed for comprehensive case collaboration and intervention planning, and
5) medically complex children
Expert Court Testimony: Section 39.303 (1) (e), Florida Statutes, requires Child Protection Teams to provide expert medical, psychological, and related professional testimony in court cases.
Training: Section 39.303 (1)(h), Florida Statutes, requires that Child Protection Teams provide training to physicians and other medical personnel and to other professionals, including, but not limited to DCF staff, law enforcement, school personnel and Guardian ad Litem’s, on the identification or determination of abuse or neglect. Training includes public and media presentations on child abuse as well as specific training designed to develop and maintain the professional skills and abilities of those handling child abuse, abandonment and neglect cases.