By Hilary Brown

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 19, 2019) – The Division of Pediatric Forensics at Kentucky Children’s Hospital (KCH) received a $250,000 gift from Kosair Charities to expand clinical and education services with the goal of ending child abuse in Kentucky.

The Face It ® Movement, launched in April 2013 as an initiative led by Kosair Charities which directly addresses the unacceptable incidences of child abuse and neglect in Kentucky. With this gift, physicians, nurses and social workers at KCH will establish Face It Lex, and further the movement’s mission by increasing clinical resources and partnering with other youth welfare agencies throughout central and eastern Kentucky.

“UK is in a unique position in that a large percentage of our patient population is actually outside of the Lexington area,” said Dr. Christina Howard. “This prioritizes efforts to not only Lexington but also to a large portion of central and eastern Kentucky.”

There were over 80,000 reports of abuse and neglect in Kentucky according to the publication Child Maltreatment 2017, which include medical neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse and psychological maltreatment. At a rate of approximately 22 out 1,000 children being victims, Kentucky has the highest rate of child abuse and neglect cases in the country and has double the national average of nine out 1,000 children.

“Kosair Charities is honored to support the UK Division of Pediatric Forensics’ crucial work to identify and prevent child abuse,” said president, Keith Inman. “The Face It Movement was formed with the bold goal of ending child abuse in Kentucky. We know this support will help further these efforts not only in Central Kentucky but across the Commonwealth.”

The Division of Pediatric Forensics at KCH was established by Dr. Christina Howard in 2015 to reevaluate how child abuse cases are investigated and prevented. In 2017, the program expanded clinical and education services beyond Fayette County to Boone, Bourbon, Campbell, Carroll, Gallatin, Grant, Harrison, Nicholas and Harrison counties.

Patient volume for the program increased to over 700 children that year, a 15% increase from the previous year. Nurse practitioners and registered nurses were hired to accommodate the increase in patient volume. With financial assistance from Kosair Charities, Howard and her team plan to develop resources in the Cumberland Valley region, an area that encompasses another 18 counties that reported 1,586 child abuse and neglect cases in 2016. Partnerships with Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky, the Children’s Advocacy Center, Kentucky Youth Advocates and Commonwealth’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services will bolster community outreach and education endeavors.

“Prevention of child abuse is a complex issue and different communities face different challenges,” said Dr. Howard. “What works in Lexington or Louisville may not necessarily work in areas like London or Clay County. We need to be able to adapt according to what is needed in those locations. We have to be able to overcome obstacles of being several hours away and use available resources such as Telehealth to do so.”

Looking ahead, Dr. Howard plans to continue to expand KCH’s and Face It’s services throughout central and eastern Kentucky by hiring more clinicians and social workers, developing training curriculum for providers, improve the tracking of reporting data and improve collaboration with community partners.

“The mission and values of Kosair Charities and Face It are very much in line with that of the KCH’s Division of Pediatric Forensic Medicine,” said Dr. Howard. “We want to foster a safe environment for children and adolescents by being a leader in prevention and education of child maltreatment through collaboration, identification, intervention and advocacy.”

Since 1923, Kosair Charities has enhanced the health and well-being of children by delivering financial support for healthcare, research, education, social services, and child advocacy. Kosair Charities’ Face It Movement directly addresses child abuse and neglect in Kentucky with the promotion of best practices in child abuse prevention and intervention, engaging the community, and advocating for effective policies to improve the child welfare system.