University of Iowa Children’s Hospital has a long tradition of providing services for suspected victims of child abuse and neglect.

The UI Children’s Hospital Child Protection Program assesses victims of alleged physical, emotional, or sexual abuse and neglect as well as those who may have experienced childhood trauma. The mission of our program is to promote the safety, protection, and well-being of children and their supportive family members through the coordination of child assessments, family well-being assessments, trauma-informed therapy services to both children and their caretakers, child and family education, patient support, and prevention services. The Child Protection Program provides services through our Child Assessment Clinic, Family Well-being Clinic, and inpatient and outpatient consultation services.

Child Assessment Clinic

Our Child Assessment Clinic determines the needs of children and families when there is a suspicion or allegation of child abuse or neglect.

During a meeting at the Child Assessment Clinic, parents/caretakers will be asked about your child’s medical history and family’s medical and social histories. Your child may also be interviewed in a family- and child-friendly environment. Additionally, your child will receive a thorough physical examination as well as body safety education. Guided by the allegation and/or physical exam findings, further tests may be ordered. In addition, a clinical social worker will offer a family well-being assessment to your family.

Based on the interview information, interactions with caretakers, physical examination findings, and test results, our team provides a summary of the findings, educational materials, and referral information for additional services, as needed. The Iowa Department of Human Services and/or law enforcement may be contacted, if necessary, to protect your child and family.

Family Well-being Clinic

Our Family Well-being Clinic serves the needs of children and families who have experienced trauma or great stress. This clinic provides service to families through family well-being assessment and family well-being therapy.

Family Well-being Assessment

During the family well-being assessment, parents or caretakers will meet with a clinical social worker and complete forms to assess trauma history, family strengths, and family needs. A social worker will review this information and provide guidance to parents/caretakers on how to use the resources and support systems that can help.  The social worker will also assist your family in completing the referral process. A few weeks later, the social worker will follow up with parents/caretakers to see what services have been put in place, help overcome any obstacles to services, and help determine any additional needs your family has identified since the initial assessment.

Family Well-being Focused Therapy

Therapy in the Family Well-being Clinic is provided by a licensed independent social worker (LISW) who has experience working with children and families with trauma history. The therapist will provide an assessment and ongoing therapy services to address individual mental health needs as well as family therapy. Jennifer Theurer, LISW, has been trained in eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT), and cognitive behavioral therapy as well as other techniques to address a variety of mental health issues. Theurer also specializes in working with children who have had traumatic experiences.

Inpatient and Outpatient Consultation Services

When a child is admitted to UI Children’s Hospital for any reason and there is a concern of child abuse or neglect, the child protection team provides inpatient and outpatient consultation services.

If the child protection team reaches a consensus that there may be abuse and/or neglect, a multidisciplinary team of child protection program staff, your child’s physicians, other UI Children’s Hospital staff (as needed), staff from the Iowa Department of Human Services, and law enforcement officials will work together to ensure your child’s well-being and safety.

Victims of sexual assault are most commonly assessed in the emergency room. Children age 13 and younger, as well as those who have not shown signs of puberty, are assessed by the child protection team. Children age 14 and older who display the signs of puberty are assessed by sexual assault response team nurses.

Children assessed in the emergency room, who are found to have genital injuries are referred to our Child Assessment Clinic for continued monitoring after their injuries are treated. Additionally, the child and supportive family members are referred to counseling services available at our Family Well-being Focused Therapy Clinic or in their community.

Make a Referral to the Child Protection Program at UI Children’s Hospital

Our three clinics within the Child Protection Program — the Child Assessment Clinic, Family Well-being Assessment Clinic, and Family Well-being Focused Therapy Clinic —accept referrals from community providers, service agencies, and medical, mental health, legal, law enforcement, education, and other professionals. Families may refer themselves directly for services as well. Most types of insurance are accepted.

For additional information or assistance, please contact:

Carlisle Xavier
Program Secretary
Child Protection Program
University of Iowa Children’s Hospital
100 Hawkins Drive
Iowa City, Iowa 52242