Child Safe Programs
The mission of the Child Safe Program is to ensure that children and families in our community live in safe environments with nurturing relationships that support optimal child development and reduce child maltreatment.
The Child Safe Program identifies, treats and supports children who are suspected to have experienced or are at risk of experiencing abuse and neglect. This program is staffed by a board certified child abuse physician, pediatric forensic nurse and social worker. The Child Safe Program conducts multidisciplinary evaluations of children in the hospital and in the Child Safe Clinic on an urgent and routine basis. A core goal of our program is to ensure that all children who are suspected of being maltreated receive standardized, appropriate medical care and psychosocial support to address their medical and safety needs.
Working in partnership with families and communities, we assure the physical, behavioral and emotional impacts of child maltreatment are considered by the people who care about them.
The Child Safe Program welcomes children from all across Vermont and Northern New York. All insurances are accepted.
The Child Safe Program works with community partners, to ensure high-quality, compassionate, and coordinated care to children who have been victims of abuse and their families.
Pediatric Forensic Nurse Program
Pediatric Forensic Nurses collaborate with the Child Safe Program and hospital pediatricians at The University of Vermont Children's Hospital.
Pediatric Forensic Nurses are specially trained to provide compassionate and comprehensive care, including a medical forensic examination and evaluation of sexual and physical trauma, to children and families with concerns of child maltreatment.
Learn more at https://www.vermontsane.org/.
The Child Protection Team offers education and training to professionals in the hospital and community on a variety of topics concerning medical issues in child abuse and neglect.
For more information about scheduling a professional training, please call 802-847-8200.
Why does a child need a Child Safe appointment?
The focus of the appointment is to ensure the health and well-being of the child. If there are concerns of abuse or neglect there may be injuries or changes to a child's body that are not obvious. Often, children and caregivers have unasked worries about their child's body as it relates to the concern for abuse or neglect. During appointments Child Safe staff can diagnose and treat medical conditions related to abuse, document possible physical or forensic findings and offer powerful reassurance that can contribute to the healing process for children and their caregivers. Additionally, the appointment allows the child to participate in a process that gives them a voice when something bad has happened to them.
What if a child has an urgent need for care?
Children who need urgent care should be evaluated first in the Emergency Department and physicians in the Emergency Department will work with the Child Safe Program to determine whether an immediate response from the Child Safe Program is necessary or whether a child can be scheduled for follow up with our outpatient clinic.
Who should come to the appointment?
The child who the appointment is about, their current caretaker (when possible) and another trusted adult who can spend time with the child while providers are speaking with the child's caretaker.
What will happen at the appointment?
A Child Safe clinic evaluation includes taking a detailed history and a medical forensic exam. The medical exam allows providers to recognize injuries that are a direct result of the abuse, as well as diagnose and treat any related infections or conditions. The exam also helps ensure that the child gets the needed follow-up including mental health interventions.
The Child Safe program is able to document any injuries with high-quality digital camera and video, and will do so when appropriate.
During the appointment staff will meet with parents and children separately and will complete a head to toe physical exam of the child. A parent or guardian is encouraged to be present for the physical exam. In cases of physical abuse of children under 2 years of age a bone survey may be ordered. Additionally, lab tests may be ordered. No internal exam is completed on children.
Should I try to figure out what really happened?
Please do not ask the child questions about the suspected maltreatment or abuse. Children may need to be interviewed by law enforcement or child protection when there is a suspicion or abuse or neglect and it is best to rely on the trained professionals to ask children questions about what they've experienced. If the child you are caring for wants to talk about what happened to them it is best to simply listen and acknowledge them without asking for further information.
What should I tell my child about the appointment?
Children should be told that they are coming to the appointment so the doctor and nurse can make sure their body is healthy and safe. The appointment will involve some conversation with providers and a head to toe exam which will include looking at the private parts of their body. There will not be any shots during the appointment and it will not be painful.
How long will it take?
Although the physical exam is typically brief, the appointment can last between 1-2 hours.
What will the exam show?
Many exams, especially regarding concerns for sexual abuse, are normal. This can happen whether or not a child has experienced abuse or maltreatment.
How will I get the results from the appointment?
Results of exams will be communicated directly to the legal guardian of the child by staff from the Child Safe Program.
What if I have other questions?
Please call 802-847-8200 to speak to someone from the Child Safe Program about your concerns, either in deciding whether or not your child needs an appointment or in answering specific questions about a an appointment that has already been scheduled for your child.
Report Child Abuse in Vermont
If you suspect a child is being abuse or neglected, call 1-800-649-5285 to report it, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you are a mandated reported you can learn more about your legal responsibilities at:
Report Child Abuse in New York
Reports of suspected child abuse or maltreatment should be made immediately to the New York Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment, commonly known as the Child Abuse Hotline, at 1-800-342-3720. This hotline operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
For more information about reporting abuse to New York visit:
Children’s Advocacy Centers
The Vermont Children’s Alliance supports Children’s Advocacy Centers in most Vermont counties. Specialized support and advocacy services are available for children and non-offending family members.
The Children’s Advocacy Center at the Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations (CUSI) is a child-focused program where law enforcement, child protection, prosecution, mental health, medical and victim’s advocacy experts and families work together to make thoughtful decisions about the investigation, treatment and prosecution of child abuse cases. This team approach allows for the most complete understanding of each case and an effective response for children and families.
Find your local Vermont Children’s Advocacy Center:
Prevent Child Abuse Vermont
Promotes and supports healthy relationships within families, schools and communities to eliminate child abuse.
Free, confidential call center that provides information about health and human services accessible across the state. Available 8am - 8pm Monday-Friday.
Vermont Department for Children and Families
Prevention and protection resources.
Child Abuse and Neglect General Information and Resources for Caregivers
Fussy Baby Network
Infant specialists available for phone support nationwide
Child Welfare Information Gateway
Sesame Street Communities
Nonprofit educational organization with resources and activities available for service providers, families and caretakers on a number of topics regarding child development and childhood experiences
Stop It Now!
Information and resources for providers and caregivers about prevention and response to sexual abuse and childhood sexual development.
The Period of Purple Crying
Information for parents and providers about increased crying between the ages of 2 weeks and 4 months of age, including strategies for parents to safely cope with the child’s crying.
Who Can Make a Referral?
- The Child Safe Program accepts referrals from community pediatricians, UVMMC providers, physicians and nurses at outside hospitals, DCF and directly from families.
What Types of Referrals Are Appropriate?
- The Child Safe Program accepts referrals for inpatient consultative requests and less emergent outpatient appointments scheduled in our outpatient clinic.
- Referral concerns include physical abuse injuries, medical child abuse, supervisional or medical neglect, non-organic failure to thrive/malnutrition, acute sexual assault, or concerns for chronic sexual abuse.
- Referrals for Consultative Services: The Child Safe Program is able to facilitate case conferences and case reviews for children seen by our team, as well as, in cases with complex medical needs or questions about child maltreatment.
What Are Some of the Other Things the Child Safe Program Can Help With?
- Identify signs and symptoms of child maltreatment.
- Provide increased understanding of the biomechanics of various injuries and how they can indicate underlying abuse.
- Provide a psychosocial and medical assessment for a child when the primary concern is suspicion of abuse or neglect.
- Provide education about conditions that mimic abuse.
- Provide education about how to document injury findings.
- Coordinate pediatric forensic nurse examinations in Emergency Department is acute evaluation and evidence collection is indicated.
- Provide trainings and education to community providers.
Vermont Forensic Nurse Program: https://www.vermontsane.org/