BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Alabama Children’s Hospital center that serves child abuse victims and their families is expanding.
CHIPS (Children’s Hospital Intervention and Prevention Services) just moved into a new facility across the street with more space, new exam rooms, as well as state of the art technology that allows for more outreach and prevention education as well as training for medical staff.
“This new facility makes children feel even more welcome,” says CHIPS executive director Debra Schneider. “Anything to make the children feel more at ease and reduce anxiety for the reason they are here, which is suspected child abuse in their lives.”
Child abuse cases have spiked during the pandemic and Schneider says their center has never been so busy.
“With the pandemic, we have seen an increase in fatalities due to suspected child abuse, we have done more counseling sessions since the pandemic began than we have done in the history of CHIPS,” says Schneider. “People are reaching out because they are stressed, they are in economic stress, and sometimes unfortunately the children become the brunt of that stress.”
The new CHIPS facility has additional exam rooms which allow for forensic medical exams in a child friendly setting.
“The technology helps us with teaching, so if we have residents or nursing students they don’t have to be in the exam room to learn things they are actually in a separate room with a video feed and they can observe the interaction we have without patients,” says CHIPS executive director Debra Schneider.
Schneider says the center also helps with their mission of teaching children how to stay safe and training adults how to spot possible signs of abuse.
“Prevention education is key. We are out in the school systems trying to teach kids a safety plan just like they know what to do if there is a fire, tornado or intruder in their schools, its just another element of safety for them,” says Schneider. “Teach your children about child abuse, let them know there are adults they can go to for help and let them know it’s never ever their fault. It’s never the child’s fault if abuse takes place.”