A place to help kids

A place to help kids

By April Frawley Birdwell

A guest watched a simulated exam video in one of the renovated exam rooms during the Child Protection Team open house./Photo by Jesse S. Jones

Community members got a sneak peek of the UF Child Protection Team’s renovated space inside the Children’s Medical Services building in September. Renovations were made to the unit to make it more child-friendly and to increase security, said Debra Esernio-Jenssen, M.D., medical director of the Child Protection Team, which works with the Department of Children and Families, law enforcement and other officials on alleged cases of child abuse and neglect.

The unit is now located on one floor and has two exam rooms instead of one. The interview room was moved and has been soundproofed. Child-friendly art is now on display, and Disney cartoons are available for children to watch in the newly expanded waiting room.

The Child Protection Team, which is part of the College of Medicine department of pediatrics, provides medical evaluations to help determine what happened in instances of alleged abuse and neglect. The team also assesses risk and protective factors related to child abuse, makes recommendations on specific cases and offers interventions to protect children. In 2010, child protection teams in Florida received more than 26,000 cases of child abuse and neglect.