At CARES Northwest, the health and safety of our community’s children come first. As a medical program serving children alleged to have been abused, we strive to:
- Put the child’s best interests first
- Provide optimal outcomes for children, families and community
- Treat children and families with compassion, honesty, integrity and acceptance
- Foster mutual respect and collaboration between patients, families and other professionals
- Commit to excellence in clinical practice
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Who We Are
CARES Northwest is a collaborative, community-based medical program for the assessment, treatment and prevention of child abuse. We provide a safe, child-friendly environment for the assessment of children for whom there are concerns of physical or sexual abuse, neglect and exposure to domestic violence. Physical examinations and interviews are conducted in a comfortable environment to help children feel safe.
Founded in 1987, the program is a collaborative effort among four of the region’s leading health systems — Kaiser Permanente, OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, Providence Health & Services, and Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel. CARES Northwest was the first program in Oregon to pair physicians and nurse practitioners with child interviewers in a medical setting to provide child abuse evaluations. Coordinating experts in medicine, mental health, child protective services and law enforcement agencies, CARES Northwest ensures that children obtain needed professional services in one child-friendly location. This approach to intervention increases effectiveness, which minimizes trauma to the child, helps prevent future abuse and sets them on the road to healing.
CARES Northwest is one of the oldest and largest child abuse assessment centers in the nation, serving more than 5,000 children annually. Approximately 1,500 children are seen at the program each year. We are the only program serving Multnomah and Washington Counties; we also serve children throughout Oregon and Clark County, Washington.
Statistics related to the incidence of child abuse can be overwhelming. Some health care professionals refer to child abuse as a national epidemic. Studies estimate that as many as one in three girls and one in six boys will experience some form of child abuse by the time they reach the age of 18.
At CARES Northwest, children are provided a complete head-to-toe medical check-up. The evaluations are conducted by doctors and nurse practitioners trained in the area of child abuse assessment. CARES Northwest’s high level of expertise leads to more accurate diagnosis of child abuse and neglect. In addition, other childhood diseases or conditions that might be mistaken for abuse or require medical treatment can be confirmed or ruled out. This neutral medical approach helps ensure the right diagnoses and treatment recommendations are made for the health and safety of each child.
- Evaluation of Sexual Abuse, Physical Abuse, Neglect and/or Domestic Violence. CARES Northwest provides medical examinations and evaluation for children who may have been abused. Children are referred for any needed medical treatment or follow-up. When appropriate, an interview is conducted with the child by a trained specialist to clarify the specifics of the alleged abuse as well as exposure to high risk factors for child abuse. A neutral medical approach to the evaluation for child abuse benefits the child, the family and the alleged perpetrator.
- Mental Health Services. The CARES Northwest Family Support Program, staffed by child and family therapists through Multnomah County, provides immediate mental health services, when needed, to the families and children served by CARES Northwest. Services can include referral to community agencies, crisis intervention, age appropriate child therapy, family therapy, parent support groups and other various.
Why CARES Northwest
Years ago, if children were physically or sexually abused, they had to tell their very personal and painful story again and again and again. Thanks to CARES Northwest, those days are over.
Caring and trained professionals from different backgrounds and agencies come to CARES Northwest each day to help children and families. The focus is on making sure each child is safe and healthy. By working together, the trauma related to an allegation of child abuse is minimized.
In addressing child abuse and neglect as a team, everyone saves the system time and money, and makes our communities safer.
When a child comes to CARES Northwest, he or she speaks with a specially trained social worker or counselor and a doctor or nurse practitioner in warm, child-friendly surroundings. The child is provided a head-to-toe physical examination and, when needed, a videotaped interview. Community partners from child protective services and law enforcement may listen to the evaluation in order to assist in protecting the health and safety of the child, and reduce the number of times the child has to recount his or her experience. At CARES Northwest, everything we do is designed to make it as easy as possible for a child to talk about what happened.