Since 2004, the UNM Children’s Hospital Child Abuse Response Team (CART) has served as a critical resource for the children of New Mexico.
CART is a multidisciplinary group of professionals who provide consultative services, timely diagnosis and pediatric care for children in New Mexico who are alleged victims of child physical abuse and/or neglect.
Led by Leslie Strickler, medical director and pediatric hospitalist, CART’s services are made possible by a team of professionals from both the UNM School of Medicine and UNM Children’s Hospital. CART is comprised of three physicians, a forensic dentist, a registered nurse and three social workers.
The program’s collaborations with other child advocate departments are extensive, including the Para Los Niños Program, the New Mexico Pediatric Emergency Department, New Mexico’s Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD), and New Mexico Children’s Court. During the academic year of 2010-2011, CART team members testified in court more than 50 times.
Child maltreatment is a considerable social and public health problem in the United States. In 2008, data collected from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System indicated 3.3 million referrals of alleged maltreatment of more than 6 million children were received by children’s protective services; for 800,00 children, allegations of maltreatment were substantiated by investigation.
During 2009 in New Mexico, 30,985 referrals alleging child maltreatment were made. Of these, 15,806 were screened for investigation and of these cases nearly 5,000 children were determined to have been victims of child maltreatment, according to the CYFD Protective Services Factbook, 2009.
During the 2010-11 academic year, CART provided consultative service in 329 cases. CART also fields telephone consultations, often daily.
In addition to providing consultative and diagnostic service and compassionate care for children, CART developed a training program for new investigative case workers with Child Protective Services that detail findings regarding physical abuse and neglect to better assess children in the field.
Further, CART instituted an educational program for new parents aimed at preventing abusive head trauma, also commonly known as shaken baby syndrome. This initiative includes distributing information as well as offering an instructional video for new parents to watch while they are in the hospital after the birth of a baby.
CART’s efforts provide an essential benefit to the UNM Children’s Hospital and have changes worlds in the greater community. The program continues to ensure that alleged pediatric victims of abuse or neglect are diagnosed correctly and receive the most appropriate and highest quality medical care. The recognition of abuse is a crucial first step in prevention.
For more information, visit http://hospitals.unm.edu/children/pss/cart.shtml.