Keeping the most vulnerable safe: Mayo Center for Safe and Healthy Children and Adolescents

April 12, 2021

Increased stress, loss of financial stability, social isolation other factors during the COVID-19 pandemic have compounded an already troubling issue across the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of hospital visits related to child abuse and neglect increased in 2020 compared to 2019.

In Rochester, 593 cases of suspected abuse in 2020 were reported by staff at Mayo Clinic. In each case, the report was a first step toward protecting a child and preventing further abuse. This is where Mayo Center for Safe and Healthy Children and Adolescentscan help.

Mayo Center for Safe and Healthy Children and Adolescents — previously known as the Mayo Child and Family Advocacy Center — offers a safe environment where child abuse allegations can be quickly evaluated and victims can be helped in one setting, at one time. All members of the team — child protection, law enforcement, victim services, mental health and medical — convene to provide the best care for the child and family. The center serves children in Rochester and in Southeastern Minnesota locations served by Mayo Clinic Health System.

How it works

Families and children referred to the Mayo Clinic Child and Family Advocacy Center typically will:

  • Be interviewed by a trained interviewer.
  • May have a child-friendly and non-traumatic medical exam by a health care provider with expertise in injuries related to child abuse.

A family member will:

  • Meet with a victim advocate who will explain the investigation process and help them find helpful resources for continuing care.
  • Obtain information regarding mental health provider resources for both the child or adolescent and family members.

The family member will meet with team members to learn about the evaluation and the team’s recommendations. The family member will have an opportunity to ask questions and discuss concerns with the team. The team will continue to be available to the family as they work with law enforcement and child protection to address the child’s needs.

Besides helping victims, the center is a resource for communities to further professional and community education, and training in child abuse reporting, awareness and prevention.

How to report child abuse

If you have reason to believe a child may be a victim of physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect, you are required by law to report it immediately to the local child protective service office or law enforcement.

Mayo Center for Safe and Healthy Children and Adolescentsis available to support Mayo staff who may have questions or concerns about filing a report. The center is staffed 24/7 to help. You can page (127) 8-2397 for assistance during regular business hours. During evening or weekend hours, call the Mayo Clinic operator at 4-2511 and ask to be connected to the Child Abuse Pediatrics consultant on call.

Mayo Center for Safe and Healthy Children and Adolescentsstaff are available to make educational presentations to teams at Mayo Clinic or in the community.

Additional resources

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Everyone can play a role in supporting families and prevent child abuse and neglect and perhaps even save a life.

These links offer more information about the process and phone numbers to report abuse:

  • Click here for a list of phone numbers for each county in Minnesota.
  • Click here for a list of phone numbers and reporting processes for each state.