By Tom Soma
Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story. — Josh Shipp
Early this summer, we were visited by Dr. Cliff Walters and his daughter, Jamie—trustees of the Walters Family Foundation, and long-time supporters. At one point, Dr. Walters asked a small group of staff members to describe our “product” in a single word.
“Hope,” volunteered one. “Love,” said a second. “Change,” concluded a third.
My answer to Dr. Walters is “them.” Our product is our people. And if I could turn their words into a sentence, it would be this: “Through their extraordinary love, Children’s Center staff members offer neglected and abused children hope that change is possible.”
At Children’s Center, we believe that “every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story.” We certainly are caring adults. And last year, we significantly impacted 462 kids, each of whom received comprehensive evaluations during an incredibly difficult time in their lives. By minimizing the trauma these children have endured, we’ve increased the likelihood of their realizing their full potential and becoming a success.
Over the past year, there’s been much more to celebrate—starting with Children’s Center’s recognition by Oregon Business Magazine’s as one of the “100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon” (we actually ranked eighth among medium-sized organizations and 20th overall).
ANNUAL REPORT 2017
THE MISSION OF CHILDREN'S CENTER
To support and medically assess children who are suspected victims of abuse or neglect.
Uniting community leaders and partners, a visionary district attorney plays a pivotal role in bringing child abuse intervention and assessment services to Clackamas County. From the onset of her career in counseling and social work, a forensic interviewer embraces the challenge of helping kids use their own voice to share their experiences of abuse. As the creator and force behind "Erin's Law", she visited more than 60 child advocacy centers around the country to share her story of resilience and empowerment.
Medical providers at Children’s Center are specifically trained in evaluating children when there are concerns for abuse and neglect. These examinations are comprehensive head-to-toe exams aimed at evaluating a child’s health and wellbeing. Medical providers may also perform or order testing for the child, such as urine testing, hair testing, or x-rays. As the providers at the center are trauma-informed, considerations are made to ensure that a child is comfortable and has control of his/her exam and body.
At Children’s Center, specially trained forensic interviewers provide developmentally-appropriate interviews for children in a safe and neutral environment. The interviews are digitally recorded and observed by child protective services and law enforcement at the Center.
Each year, Children’s Center conducts medical assessments and interviews for more than 450 Clackamas County children who are suspected victims of abuse and neglect—as well as providing resources, referrals, or other support to more than 300 additional families.
Children’s Center is a trusted source for information and referrals related to child abuse intervention and prevention. The Center’s clinical staff regularly fields inquiries from community members, parents, medical and education professionals, and referring partners or agencies seeking advice or access to resources for a variety of child safety concerns.
Children’s Center is the designated medical provider for Clackamas County. Children must be seen within 48 hours when injuries are suspected to be the result of physical abuse. Because of this, the Center maintains a number of open appointment times in order to accommodate these urgent assessments.
Our family support team can help caregivers understand how this experience will impact the child and what adults can do to help the child cope and recover. Family Support Specialists are Master’s level clinicians who offer emotional support, education and referrals to resources in the community for ongoing services. Family support services are available to any concerned caregiver, even if the child is not seen in the clinic for a full assessment.
RISK was established to provide support, education, resources and intervention to children eleven years and younger who demonstrate sexually inappropriate behavior. Children’s Center contacts families in these cases with a goal of addressing the behaviors before they escalate to a level that necessitates juvenile justice involvement.
In partnership with The Ford Family Foundation’s Protect Our Children statewide program, Children’s Center is working to end child sexual abuse in Clackamas County by offering Darkness to Light’s research-informed Stewards of Children® prevention training. This nationally-recognized workshop teaches adults five practical steps to help prevent, recognize, and respond responsibly to sexual abuse.
As a leader within our county’s state-mandated multidisciplinary team, we offer presentations and trainings designed to help professionals from law enforcement, child welfare, schools, medicine, mental health, and social services serve an effective role in preventing and addressing child maltreatment.
Our medical, mental health and prevention specialists support schools, parent, mentor and volunteer groups by providing presentations and trainings on the impact of trauma on children and adults, the signs and symptoms of abuse, services and programs of Children’s Center.
Thank you to our generous donors and champions who supported Children’s Center in Fiscal Year 2017!
We imagine an Oregon where no child has to bear the burden of abuse. Our Monthly Champions step up for kids by generously giving each month.
Thank you to our loyal supporters for making it possible for Children's Center to serve hundreds of children and families in Clackamas County this year!
Honoring our community of supporters, partners and advocates, please view our list of in-kind gifts made in 2017.
In November of 2016, Children's Center unveiled the Hope and Healing Community Blog. With a focus on sharing survivor stories, providing prevention and safety tips for caregivers, and introducing readers to our professional staff, the discussion also featured many simple ways each of us can help build a safer, healthier world for kids.
"The bottom line: by reading aloud to a child, or by making it easier for others to do so, you will be helping to change a life. In the process, you may be helping to change the world," writes Children's Center Executive Director, Tom Soma.
According to The Family Dinner Project, a Harvard-based non-profit, "Research has shown what parents have known for a long time: Sharing a fun family meal is good for the spirit, brain and health of all family members."
“Children’s developing sensory, motor, and attachment systems have biologically not evolved to accommodate this sedentary, yet frenzied and chaotic nature of today’s technology,” writes pediatric occupational therapist, Cris Rowan.
Throughout the year, community volunteers assist various departments with special projects, ranging from ongoing service to being available on an “as-needed” basis. Children’s Center hosts and participates in several signature events every year – spearheaded by committee advocates who work tirelessly with our staff, community partners, and a take a lead role in the coordination and planning of an event, while supporting our mission to protect kids and prevent child abuse in Clackamas County.
This type of service is invaluable to staff and Children’s Center is deeply appreciative of their efforts.