Marshfield Clinic has a rich history of providing Child Advocacy services for Wood County and its neighbors. As with many of its programs, Marshfield Clinic was ahead of its time in the field of child abuse pediatrics. The clinic hired Dr. Gerald Porter, a pediatrician with special interest and expertise in child abuse medicine, in 1963 long before a specialty existed. Dr. Porter was integral in the development of state laws, including the Child Abuse Reporting Act s.b. 414 signed into law in 1978. This bill was the first state law ever enacted in Marshfield.
Since Dr. Porter’s retirement in 1997, Marshfield Clinic has continued to recognize the importance of Child Advocacy and Child Abuse Services, making a commitment to continuing these services for the community. Since Dr. Porter’s tenure, Drs. Karen Milkey, Carolyn Nash, Adrienne Cruz, and most recently, Kristen Iniguez have held the post.
In the mid-2000s, spearheaded by Dr. Carolyn Nash, a coalition of community agencies including Wood County Department of Human Services, Marshfield Police Department, the Wood County District Attorney’s Office as well as Marshfield Clinic and Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital came together to begin development of a Child Advocacy Center (CAC) for Wood County. The concept of the CAC was born in the 1980s when it was realized that care of a child victim could be optimized by bringing the child to a facility where many if not all aspects of a child abuse investigation could be performed – a “one stop shop” for child abuse investigations.
In April 2009, the Marshfield Child Advocacy Center (MCAC) officially opened its doors. It was located offsite in a space donated by Ministry Saint Joseph’s Children’s Hospital, where it stayed for four years. Services provided included forensic interviewing and medical evaluations, utilizing community agents and a part-time physician.
In early 2013, the MCAC moved back to the main Marshfield Clinic campus into a beautiful state-of-the-art facility where it has grown by leaps and bounds. In 2015, under the direction of Dr. Kristen Iniguez, staff and services were expanded to include a dedicated social worker/forensic interviewer and a part-time psychologist who facilitates behavioral health evaluations for child victims. In late 2015, the MCAC began offering medical home services for children who have been placed in foster care and kinship care.
Thanks to a Victim of Crime Act (VOCA) grant awarded in late 2016, the MCAC is in the midst of yet another expansion of staff and services. This includes a second full time social worker, two full-time behavioral health specialists to expand therapy services, and an educational specialist who will work with school age children who have been victimized to improve educational outcomes.
Over the last year, the Marshfield Child Advocacy Center has seen a record increase in the number of children served. In 2016, the MCAC served more than 240 children, which is a sixty percent increase over 2015 and a 3-fold increase since 2012. On an annual basis, we serve 19 counties in Central and Northern Wisconsin.
The staff of the MCAC is committed to providing care for children when there are concerns for child abuse and neglect. Ideally, our goal is to prevent abuse, but identifying victims of abuse and being able to provide resources for those children to help overcome their trauma is vitally important for their long-term health and development.
“The abuse is out there. We are only identifying it and providing help for these vulnerable children.”
– Kristen Iniguez, DO FAAP