April is Child Abuse Awareness Month and at Center for Hope we are launching a campaign to call attention to the extraordinarily shocking number of child homicides over the past 6-year period, certainly the most brutal representation of child abuse. Child homicides (due to gun violence or child abuse) in Baltimore City are up by 33% in this 6-year period versus the prior 6 years and to date we’ve had 5 child homicides in the first few months of 2021.
The Red Desk Projectis a public art statement in conjunction with LifeBridge Health, our long time creative agency Storyfarm, Baltimore City Public Schools, and CertaPro Painters of Columbia, that raises awareness to the issue of child homicide, recognizes the scale of what has happened and those we have lost, and looks to provide support for the survivors of those deceased. The impact and power of this campaign will be powerful and transformative. Look for 111 Red Desks – one for each child who was killed – situated at LifeBridge Health’s Sinai campus in the coming weeks. We will be launching the campaign with a special press event this Thursday, April 29, 2021. Look for more information on our social media channels with #reddeskproject and at reddesk.org.
Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) across the country are the front line responders to child abuse. For decades, these organizations have impacted millions of child abuse victims and their families, from small towns to rural communities and urban cities.
On Thursday May 6, multiple CACs from different parts of the country, including Center for Hope’s Baltimore Child Abuse Center, will come together virtually for Unite Against Child Abuse: A National Conversation. Along with raising funds to support the critical work of protecting children, the event be a dialogue to educate and inspire local communities to find solutions to child abuse happening where they live.
This unique virtual event will be hosted by activist, filmmaker and abuse survivor Sasha Joseph Neulinger and will include an intimate conversation with actor, artist and activist Terry Crews and performances by The 5 Browns and Ashley-Lauren Elrod.
We invite all of our Center for Hope friends, supporters and those interested in learning more about how to make an impact and protect our nation’s youth to join us on May 6 at 1 pm EST. We promise you will learn something new that can be used to help our communities in the fight against child abuse.
Look for an email in your inbox shortly with more details about how to log on. For more information about how you can prevent child abuse, please visit www.lifebridgehealth.com/centerforhope.
Next month, May, is Mental Health Awareness Month, so we are shining a light on Yuvi Rattigan and her committed Center for Hope mental health team!
The mental health team provides trauma-focused, evidence-based, outpatient therapeutic treatment to individuals as young as three who experience trauma and other Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) within Baltimore City. Clients are referred to the mental health program by other Center for Hope programs, from LifeBridge Health, and by the greater Baltimore community. The mental health team offers individual therapy services, caregiver therapy, intensive case management, referrals to additional mental health services as needed, transportation to and from therapy and HIPPA-compliant therapy via telehealth, all free of charge to the patient, thanks to grants and philanthropic contributions.
Yuvi and her team work hard to keep up with the demand for their services while at the same time carefully growing their program to accommodate future needs. “It is both eye-opening and distressing to have such an intimate understanding of the traumatic events that our community deals with and to see what a segment of our society deals with,” says Yuvi. She is proud to be a clinician of color providing quality mental health services in a community where many of the clients she sees look like her.
Over the past year, the pandemic has forced the mental health team to use a virtual platform. They worked through a variety of logistical challenges to ensure seamless treatment options for those who need their services. Some clients lacked technology; others needed to be given the tools for play therapy to use at home; and figuring out how to treat patients under the age of five via video call were all challenges. But the team tackled each obstacle and crafted multiple solutions to keep the program humming.
The pandemic forced the team (and all of us) to look inward and take better stock of how we care for ourselves. At Center for Hope we recognize the importance of self-care. We guide our clients towards a path of healing and wellness.
Our message to the community during Mental health Awareness Month is a simple one—take care of yourself. Monitor your energy levels, watch your nutritional intake, pay attention to the stimuli in your world and surround yourselves with positivity.
Center for Hope is fortunate to have an expert team of child-centered professionals who understand the importance of giving all children and their families and caretakers the mental health support they need. Over the past year, the team worked hard to continue to offer care and support to families even with the limitations of COVID-19.
If you or a loved one need mental health support, seek professional guidance. Contact the national SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline at 877-726-4727 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK.
UNITING AGAINST CHILD ABUSE: A NATIONAL CONVERSATION Thursday, May 6, 1pm Child advocacy centers are on the front lines in the response to child maltreatment. For decades, their response has impacted millions of child abuse victims and their families—from small towns, rural communities and urban cities. This national collaborative model recognizes that we all have a stake in protecting children. Today, several of the largest centers in the nation are using their collaborative approaches to come together and UNITE in a national conversation to educate, inspire and engage our local communities nationwide in this effort. Join us for a virtual event inspired by child advocacy centers to bring the issue of child abuse to the forefront. This event hopes to connect our local communities on a national stage to bring light to the tireless efforts and the tremendous impact of child advocacy centers and their community partners. More information to come.
BE A HERO AT HOME Saturday, June 12, 6pm On Saturday, June 12 starting at 6 pm, join the Center for Hope for this year’s Be A Hero at Home hybrid event. Small groups will be invited to gather in-person outside at the home of the host’s choice, while the program and entertainment parts of the event will be virtual. There are many sponsorship options available, as well as choices to host a table or purchase tickets. For more information, visit www.lifebridgehealth.org/BeAHero or contact Kelly Meltzer at 410-601-9238 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
One year later. This month presents us with the strange, unfathomable one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic. At Center for Hope, we have spent the last year like all of you—pivoting, grieving, sharing time apart and figuring out what a path forward looks like. It has been hard on all of us in different ways and for different reasons. At Center for Hope we recognized early on in the pandemic that we were in a unique position to share our wealth of knowledge about wellness and resiliency, particularly when it comes to caring for the caregiver. Dealing with trauma every day at Center for Hope gave us the expertise to share best practices with the greater LifeBridge health system. During a year that saw Center for Hope invent, pivot and reimagine our work to meet the needs of our clients, we paid equal attention to guiding and helping our staff.
We are proud to say that we have played a large role in caring for the caregiver and promoting wellness when our frontline staff and essential workers needed it most. We dug deep into our arsenal of grit and courage, and helped each other “care bravely.”
We enacted an MDT (Multidisciplinary Team) Wellness program that was a major success. Individual recipients of coaching sessions met wellness goals including better utilization of social support, improving self-care, setting boundaries between home and work, expressing concerns in the workplace and identifying concrete next steps to meet professional goals. Recipients commented on how helpful it was to have a safe and confidential place to talk through concerns and get support.
We led the charge to create a wellness experience for staff including the Sinai Spa, giving staff the opportunity to take a break from their shift and partake in massage chairs for 10–15 minute interludes, chill out with a Zen sand garden and participate in activities such as a sand in water activity, adult coloring books and calming cards.
We also tapped the Center for Hope advisory council and asked for their help in assembling gift bags for hard-working staff. Thanks to organizers Jamie Smith, Jen Sachs and Bridget Quinn Stickline, along with the support of board members, LifeBridge Health staff received much appreciated goodies from local merchants. The greater LifeBridge Health community was also extremely generous in their support of the Care Bravely Fund, which paid for gifts and services for LifeBridge Health staff. And a big shout-out to Todd Pattison, former Chair of the Center for Hope Advisory Board, who donated 1,100 reusable masks for children and adults receiving services at Center for Hope, as well as a generous cash gift this fiscal year.
All of these efforts helped to remind our staff that we are forever grateful for their service this past year. They are the true heroes of COVID-19, and Center for Hope salutes all of them for their endless dedication to our community. To see a more complete account of Center for Hope highlights and accomplishments during this unprecedented time, click here to watch Director of Strategy and Operations LaDonna Morgan’s video clip from our recent Annual Community Gathering.
This month’s Faces of Hope shines a light on Dr. Wendy Lane, Sarah Rangelov, CRNP and the dedicated medical staff at Center for Hope’s medical clinic. The critically important medical clinic provides an array of services including initial medical screenings for children entering foster care in Baltimore and forensic medical exams for victims of child sexual abuse.
Dr. Wendy Lane, an expert in the field of child abuse, is CFH’s medical director. She is board certified in general pediatrics, child abuse pediatrics and preventive medicine; she is also an associated professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and serves on the Child Protection Team at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Recently Dr. Lane took over as the director of the Maryland CHAMP (Child Abuse Medical Professionals) program providing training and peer review to doctors and nurses around the state who provide medical services to children with suspected abuse and neglect. Dr. Lane performs medical evaluations for CFH as well as for the Howard County Child Advocacy Center.
CFH is also fortunate to have Sarah Rangelov, CRNP as one of its pediatric nurse practitioners. A Maryland native, Sarah received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from the University of Maryland, School of Nursing. Sarah is currently seeking her Doctorate of Nursing Practice at the University of Maryland, School of Nursing.
CFH’s Medical Clinic Coordinator, Jess Ciarapica, helps the clinic run smoothly. Jess makes sure each child feels comfortable when they come in for their exam and that each child leaves with a stuffed animal to take home.
CFH’s medical clinic works closely with the Baltimore City MATCH Program to coordinate medical care for children placed in foster care and to evaluate victims of child sexual abuse. CFH’s trauma-informed and child-sensitive approach make it an ideal place for children who may have experienced loss, stress or trauma to receive services and care. Each child who visits CFH’s medical clinic receives a complete physical examination as well as treatment referrals, prescriptions and medical counseling. The comprehensive care they receive at CFH helps these children avoid future health problems, stabilizing their well-being and filling a gap in the healthcare system.
Utilizing on-site care, state of the art technology and a child-focused environment, CFH improves the outcomes for hundreds of children each year. The philosophy of the medical clinic is that alleged victims of abuse should be offered a thorough head-to-toe physical evaluation, including visualization of the genital anatomy. A full medical evaluation of victims is essential to evaluate for evidence of abuse and testing for sexually transmitted infections. Results obtained during the medical evaluation may assist law enforcement in successful prosecution of offenders, and Child Protective Services in effective protection of children.
Center for Hope is fortunate to have an expert team of child-centered medical professionals who understand the importance of giving all children and their families who walk through our doors hope for a brighter, healthier tomorrow. Over the past year, this team worked hard to continue to offer care and support to families, even with the limitations of Covid-19. We salute them and thank them for their continued services to Baltimore’s children.
This month we are profiling a very gracious Center for Hope donor, Scott Melamed and his company ProMD Health, the practice of Dr. George O. Gavrila.
For years, Scott and ProMD have been a consistent and generous supporter of Baltimore Child Abuse Center. From generous financial donations to event sponsorships, auction donations and direct service activities, the ProMD Helps fund has made generous gifts to further the mission of helping Baltimore’s children. Most recently, they made the very first cross-Center for Hope program gift because Scott and his team are committed to helping prevent abuse and violence across the lifespan.
“It makes me feel hopeful, pun intended, to be able to help Center for Hope’s mission of providing the best care to victims of abuse and trauma through efficient and collaborative programming,” said Scott Melamed, President of ProMD. “Abuse and trauma mean different things to different people and it is important to have the resources to be able to cater to each survivor’s individual needs. It is my hope that more of these cross-Center for Hope programs spring up and get the support they need.”
Scott requested that a portion of this years’ gift be designated to the dance therapy program because he believes dance therapy is an effective tool to not only foster expression and communication, but also to help heal and “dance things out” by releasing some of the pent-up tension caused by stress and trauma in a healthy way. The fact that dance as an art form is particularly beautiful lines up well with ProMD’s focus as an aesthetics practice.
Scott hopes that other businesses will follow ProMD’s lead. He encourages businesses to give, whether the gift is big or small, and join Center for Hope’s mission to make the communities where we live a better and safer place for us all. For more information on how you or your business can get involved, contact Hilary Corley at 215-300-2618 or email@example.com.
February was Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Teen Dating Violence impacts millions of teens in the United States every year. According to the CDC, one in 11 female teens and one in 15 male teens reported experiencing physical dating violence in the past year. Individuals who identify as LGBTQ are more likely to experience dating violence. Dating violence is not just physical harm. Stalking, sexual and psychological aggression are all acts of violence which can take place in person or online.
As a parent or caregiver, it is important to be able to detect the signs of dating violence and to have an open and honest conversation with your teen. Talking to your children about healthy relationships can sometimes feel uncomfortable, but it is essential. Here are some tips and tools to use to be able to talk with your teen about the possibility of teen dating violence:
Make it clear to your child that being in a relationship can feel thrilling, but it should never feel dangerous. Physical harm of any kind is not love, no matter what words are attached to it.
A partner should never force your teen to participate in sexual activities they are not comfortable with, nor engage in sex without their consent.
Extreme jealousy and insecurity, an inability to control one’s temper and extreme moods swings are common characteristics of perpetrators of dating violence. Perpetrators of dating violence attempt to control their partner’s life and isolate them from family and friends. If a partner is trying to police where your child is going, who they are seeing, and what they are talking about, this is a sign of dating violence.
Though COVID-19 may have disrupted some of the more physical manifestations of teen dating violence, violent behavior can manifest itself online, too. With teens spending more time online than ever before, it can be difficult as a parent to decipher what is normal and what is harmful technological engagement. Make sure your child knows that threats or blackmail, false accusations, constant and disruptive calls and texts, and forcing someone to send inappropriate photos or constant updates on their whereabouts are all unhealthy behaviors. If a partner asks your child to share their passwords or logs into your child’s email, phone, or social media without their consent, this is also a red flag.
Finally, as parents and caregivers, it is important to reflect on one’s own habits and behaviors in relationships, and think about how these habits might be interpreted by our children. Learning how to behave in a relationship begins at home. Be sure your child knows what a relationship should be: mutual respect, encouragement, trust, good humor. Violence is simply not an option.
We have several grant-funded positions for which we are now hiring! Please share these among your networks. We will be posting more soon as we expand our programs, so if you know of colleagues who would be a good fit for our growing team, please share this link to all of our open positions with them. (Qualified candidates only please, as many roles require certain licensures and experiences to be able to fulfill the required role.)
The DOVE program offers a wide array of services to victims and survivors of intimate partner violence. Based at Northwest Hospital in Randallstown, the program serves those facing physical and emotional abuse in relationships, whether they are patients, those referred after police-involved incidents or self-referred members of the community. The DOVE Program offers survivor-centered, trauma-informed help that is free and confidential, regardless of race, age, religion, gender identification or sexual orientation. Services include crisis intervention in the hospital, safety planning, the Lethality Assessment Program that works to supports victims identified by police, court accompaniment and legal representation for protective orders, counseling services, support groups, on-going case management, and training and outreach for the community. All DOVE services embrace the survivor’s empowerment, as DOVE staff work together with clients on client-defined goals. DOVE is committed to ending violence and views the problem as a social justice issue, recognizing the compounded effects of sexism, racism, poverty, able-ism, homophobia, ageism and other forms of oppression on the individuals whom the program assists.
Audrey Bergin started the DOVE program in 2004 because she recognized domestic violence as a public health issue, and wanted to use her years of experience working with abused children and survivors of domestic violence to make a difference. DOVE was the fourth hospital-based domestic violence program in Maryland and the first in Baltimore County. Audrey and the DOVE Program have won numerous awards for their work. Audrey plays a leading role in statewide and local efforts to counter domestic violence, as past president of the Maryland Health Care Coalition Against Domestic Violence and as the chair of Baltimore County’s Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team, among other positions.
Adapting to a Pandemic
COVID has meant increased stressors on victims of domestic violence in terms of their health, financial pressures, and the dangers of being quarantined with abusive partners. DOVE has had to shift its work capacity to ensure that services are still accessible to patients and clients. Many forms of contacts, from counseling appointments to support groups and more, have shifted to virtual platforms. Use of phones and even texting has also increased; DOVE staff ensure that the calls happen when an abuser is not present, and they will establish a safety plan with clients when necessary on how to handle keeping these communications safe and private, as well as what to do if confidentiality is compromised.
Growth and Impact
DOVE has grown from a small program serving 100 survivors each year to the largest, most comprehensive hospital-based program in the state, serving over 1,400 individuals each year. Even though the pandemic has presented challenges to service delivery as DOVE staff work remotely and clients may find barriers to accessing help, in 2020 DOVE Staff worked with 1,427 survivors, providing over 7,000 follow up services (including 1,426 counseling sessions and 1,595 legal services). DOVE has come to be seen as the major domestic violence service provider in western Baltimore County.