Children in Cuyahoga County suffer from abuse or neglect at a rate significantly higher than the national average. Black and Brown children are disproportionately victimized and represented in these child abuse rates. In addition, with siginificant under-reporting of child abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic, the urgency for earlier detection and prevention is greatly increased. A more comprehensive, county-wide coordinated approach for early identification and treatment of child abuse and neglect is needed to reduce the risk to our county's children.
Recently, the Schubert Center for Child Studies was honored to partner with DCFS to draft Addressing and Preventing Child Abuse in Cuyahoga County: Toward a Coordinated Approach, a report highlighting the need for a more coordinated system to prevent and reduce the impact of child abuse and neglect in the county. At the request of the DCFS Advisory Board, we conducted a review of child protection team models nationally, explored how this type of approach would work within our county structure, and prepared a report on findings and recommendations.
The report describes the current landscape of child abuse and neglect in Cuyahoga County and the current system for addressing child abuse cases, as well as other models for a coordinated response and prevention of revictimization. It is informed by academic literature, research reports, and interview with key stakeholders from around the nation and an advisory group of local experts who work in child welfare, pediatrics, advocacy and research. The report is intended to offer information that will advance an effort toward a county-wide, coordinated model for addressing child abuse tha moves close collaboration among medical practitions, a multidisciplinary team of key stakeholders, and a coordinating entity.
As April's National Child Abuse Awareness Month draws to a close, we are releasing the report and a two-page Executive Summary. We look forward to being part of the conversation with key stakeholders to develop a more coordinated system to better address and prevent child abuse in our county.