Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $497,158)
The University of South Alabama (USA) Health System, the region’s only academic health system and specialized center for pediatric emergency care, proposes to establish South Kids Intervention & Prevention Services (SKIPS): A Comprehensive Center for Pediatric & Adolescent Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Services in the Gulf Coast Region. The purpose of SKIPS is to establish acute and non-acute forensic medical services for pediatric victims/survivors of sexual assault residing in Greater Mobile and the Gulf Coast region (service area), which includes counties south of Birmingham, AL, coastal Mississippi, and the Florida panhandle, through implementation of a coordinated community response, collaboratively with USA Health and Child Advocacy Center of Mobile (CAC). SKIPS project activities include (i) providing high-quality, comprehensive medical forensic exams and post-sexual assault care to pediatric victims/survivors that promotes healing and reduces trauma; (ii) coordinating with the CAC to facilitate holistic advocacy services to support pediatric victims/survivors and their families before, during, and after the examination process; (iii) increasing the availability of pediatric SANEs/SAFEs to address the current dearth of response to pediatric sexual assault in the service area; (iv) improving access to training and clinical education that supports training needs, peer networking, mentoring, and retention of pediatric SANEs/SAFEs, and identify strategies that combat vicarious trauma and burnout among pediatric SANEs/SAFEs; and (v) facilitating a coordinated community response to pediatric sexual assault through a multidisciplinary pediatric sexual assault response team (SART).
Expected outcomes of the project include (i) provision of evidence-based acute and non-acute medical forensic services consistent with the standard of care to pediatric victims of sexual assault; (ii) streamlining the referral process for pediatric victims in need of advocacy and comprehensive follow-up services in concert with the medical forensic exam; (iii) increasing the number of trained pediatric SANEs/SAFEs to provide medical forensic services for service area; (iv) development and implementation of a comprehensive training plan for new SANE/SAFEs that supports ongoing professional development, improves retention, combats vicarious trauma and reduces burnout; (v) formation of a multidisciplinary pediatric SART to address and implement rapid cycle quality improvements. The intended beneficiaries of SKIPS are all pediatric victims/survivors of sexual assault residing in the service area. This proposal will establish a comprehensive pediatric sexual assault program in a region that currently does not offer intentional, trauma-informed medical forensic services to pediatric victims/survivors.