Loma Linda University Health’s Board of Trustees has announced the establishment of a new institute for child adversity, which will facilitate student education and research while addressing community needs in the area of child abuse.

In a vote in May 2018, the Board created the Resiliency Institute for Childhood Adversity, or RICA, an expansion of the current Children’s Assessment Center (CAC) in San Bernardino, California. The expanded center is a forum for the collaboration of numerous local agencies to provide forensic interviews and evidentiary medical examinations to evaluate child abuse allegations. The coordinated approach removes the necessity of having an abused child recount their experiences to representatives of several agencies in numerous interviews.

RICA is a collaboration of local law enforcement, various funding agencies, legal systems, and Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital.

“Abuse of children has become an all-too-familiar story in this country and beyond,” said Loma Linda University Health president Richard H. Hart. “Loma Linda University Health’s Resiliency Institute for Childhood Adversity will build and grow upon the reputation that CAC has maintained as a national exemplar in caring for abused children.”

RICA will house a variety of educational rotations for Loma Linda students and residents and will serve as a hub for Loma Linda University’s three-year child abuse pediatrics residency program — one of only a few in the nation. This fellowship program, accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, emphasizes intervention and prevention and provides pediatricians with a variety of patient care experiences, research opportunities, and educational activities.

RICA will join the ranks as Loma Linda University Health’s 13th institute, said Mark Reeves, vice president for institutes. Loma Linda University’s institutes integrate research, education, and health-related services across multiple schools and facilities to bring together an interdisciplinary mix of scientists, teachers, and practitioners.

RICA will facilitate multidisciplinary cooperation with its partner agencies through monthly meetings of team members for training and case review.

CAC was launched in 1994, two years after San Bernardino’s Children’s Network Policy Council began exploring ways to evaluate child-abuse allegations more sensitively. Frequently, victimized children suffered unnecessary trauma in the process of being interviewed by multiple agencies.

The Council established a task force with representatives from Child Protective Services, County Medical Center, Public Health, Behavioral Health, the District Attorney’s office, Sheriff’s Office, Juvenile Court, Family Law Court, County Counsel, Children’s Network, Children’s Fund, and Loma Linda University Medical Center.

CAC’s 1994 opening was a partnership between the County of San Bernardino and Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital.

The assessment center’s needs have dramatically increased over the years. In 2014, the center was relocated to a county-owned and maintained, state-of-the-art facility in San Bernardino. The new institute is on track to help treat 1,600 physically or sexually abused children this year.

The RICA oversight committee met during the last week of August 2018 to designate leadership and determine functional relationships with CAC and San Bernardino County.

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