“The solution of adult problems tomorrow depends in large measure upon the way our children grow up today. There is no greater insight into the future than recognizing that when we save our children we save ourselves.” ~ Margaret Mead
Child abuse is a community problem that requires a community solution. The Multidisciplinary Child Abuse Team (MDT) provides that community solution through collaboration of professionals from diverse disciplines. The District Attorney chairs the MDT, which ensures immediate investigation of and notification procedures for child abuse cases and for interviewing child abuse victims. ORS 418.747.
The MDT has a written protocol signed by representatives of all team member agencies. The team includes, but is not limited to, representatives from child protective services, medical professionals, school officials, mental health department personnel, law enforcement, and prosecutors.
Some of the objectives of the MDT are listed below:
- Coordinate the fact-finding process
- Ensure timely sharing of information among team members
- Minimize trauma to a child
- Hold offenders accountable
- Protect children (remove them from unsafe situations)
- Treat the child medically and psychologically
- Review cases to keep them from getting lost in the system
- Review and address system issues
- Provide interdisciplinary training to team members
The MDT ensures that child abuse reports are screened, appropriate cases investigated, and, when needed, legal intervention takes place to protect the children in our community.
Some of the benefits of the MDT are listed below:
- Safer children
- Protects victims from further abuse
- Prevents the abuse of other potential victims
- Prevents children from “falling through the cracks”
- Better investigations and assessments
- Minimizes the number of victim interviews
- Improves the quality of decisions
- Reduces stress to individual decision makers
- Broadens the knowledge base of team members
- Greater success in court
- Healthier families
- Delivers appropriate and timely treatment services
- Preserves the family unit when can be done safely
The MDT Child Abuse Team Deputy DAs prosecute child homicides, physical abuse, and sex crimes committed by family members, and appear on dependency cases in juvenile court.