Canopy Child Advocacy Center Prepares to Launch Cuyahoga County Child Protection Team

     After much research and preparation Cuyahoga County will soon have a collaborative Child Protection Team (CPT) dedicated to detecting and preventing sometimes severe and hard to spot cases of child abuse and neglect. Clinicians from MetroHealth System, Cleveland Clinic, and University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children will join forces with the multidisciplinary team at Canopy Child Advocacy Center to form the CPT in an unprecedented collaboration between organizations.

     The Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Advisory Board collaborated with Case Western Reserve University to publish a study on the value of Child Protection Teams (CPT). The study detailed how CPT could help strengthen the partnership between child serving agencies and help prevent adverse outcomes in some child welfare cases. In September 2021 DCFS accepted the proposal and released a Request for Proposals, seeking a partner to lead the creation and management of a collaborative CPT. In 2022 Canopy Child Advocacy Center was chosen to lead the team and funding was secured for the project.

     “The Division of Children and Family Services is looking forward to being a valuable partner in this joint approach to managing some of the most difficult cases we encounter,” said Christopher Cabot, Deputy Director, DCFS. “A collaborative approach between child-serving agencies is vital to immediate impact and long-term systemic changes, and we are thrilled to play a key role in this exciting work.”  

     Led by Canopy and in partnership with MetroHealth System, Cleveland Clinic, and University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children, the CPT will foster collaboration between multiple organizations for early identification of child abuse and neglect by removing some of the barriers that make it harder for agencies to work together on cases and allow the County to have a unified approach to addressing child abuse. Medical staff specially trained to respond to concerns of child abuse will work to provide medical consultations, communicate findings to appropriate agencies, conduct multidisciplinary reviews of cases, and give expert testimony. This unprecedented collaboration underscores the incredible importance of the CPT’s mission.

     “The CPT project is an opportunity provided to us due to the previous successes we’ve been fortunate to have at the CAC via our multidisciplinary partnerships and working with victims of sexual abuse,” said Jennifer Johnson, Director, Canopy. “We are honored to be able to expand services to those experiencing physical abuse and neglect and bring together three major health systems to provide comprehensive, child abuse specific medical care. We are beyond grateful to the Department of Health and Human Services for their tireless efforts to bring this to fruition.”  

     Since opening three years ago, Canopy has served 2,157 children and families, becoming a critical resource for helping victims of abuse heal, thrive, and grow. Their multi-disciplinary team, made up of therapeutic services, law enforcement, the prosecutor’s office, Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services, medical professionals, and other experts, works together under one roof to provide coordinated services to children who have been victims of sexual abuse. 

     The new CPT program will help expand Canopy’s services to include a more robust preventative response to victims of physical and sexual child abuse. Canopy will also be able to stay open for up to 12 hours a day, several days per week, and offer medical services five days a week, making it easier for families to get the help they need.