Annual Child Maltreatment Symposium 2020

Thursday and Friday, October 22-23, 2020

The Protective Services Team invites all professionals whose work involves interaction with child abuse and neglect to the 2020 annual symposium.

This is a continuing education event designed to educate physicians and professionals from all disciplines who care for children. Presented by internationally and nationally known experts in the area of child maltreatment and sponsored by Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, this symposium aims to help medical and other professionals expand their knowledge about child maltreatment.

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View this year's sympoisum agenda below. Click on the hyperlinks to view presentation PDFs and supplemental materials.

Thursday, October 22  

Friday, October 23

Speaker Topics & Bios

Andrea Asnes, MD

Presentation: The Child Abuse Consultation for Suspected Physical Abuse: Beyond the History and Physical Examination

Description: A critical aspect of the clinical care of injured children is the decision about the likelihood that the injured child has been abused. Getting this assessment right is crucial because of the substantial risks of an incorrect diagnosis: if a child with an accidental injury is labeled as abused, that child may be needlessly removed from the care of his/her parents, and alternatively, if an abused child is labeled as an accident that child will return to an abusive home and may suffer additional abuse and even death. Guidelines that dictate an approach to history taking, physical examination, and diagnostic testing are published, but little has been written about exactly how this work is done.  In addition, recent publications in the lay press have looked critically at the role of the child abuse consultant and questioned both the evidence in support of and the of the value of the consultative process itself.  In this talk, the process of a child abuse evaluation from the request for a consultation to the provision of a final assessment will be described, with particular attention paid to critical components, common pitfalls, and pathways to avoid these pitfalls. 

Presentation: Disparities and Bias in the Evaluation of Child Physical Abuse

Description: Racial disparities in the evaluation of child physical abuse have been documented in multiple studies.  White children have been found to be more likely to be unrecognized as victims of abuse compared to nonwhite children, and nonwhite children have been found to reported to child protective services at higher rates compared to white children for similar injuries.  These disparities have been attributed to both over racism and implicit bias.  This lecture will review the data presented in research studies about racial disparities in the evaluation of child physical abuse to date, as well as explore several possible strategies and safeguards to prevent these disparities in frontline clinical settings.

Biography: Andrea G. Asnes, MD, MSW is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Yale School of Medicine, Director of the Yale Programs for Safety, Advocacy, and Healing, and a board-certified Child Abuse Pediatrician. After receiving a master’s degree in social work from New York University, Dr. Asnes completed medical school and residency at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She spent two years as a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the University of Michigan before joining John Leventhal, MD in 2005 on the faculty at Yale where she has learned from and worked alongside him since. Dr. Asnes assumed leadership of the Yale Programs for Safety, Advocacy, and Healing in 2019. She is a current member of the American Board of Pediatrics Child Abuse Subboard, has published over thirty peer-reviewed papers, chapters, and invited commentaries, and was a section editor for the 23rd edition of Rudolph’s Pediatrics. Her scholarly interests include the support of frontline clinicians in the identification of abusive injury and the engagement of sexually abused children and their parents in trauma-focused mental health care. Dr. Asnes has an abiding interest in physician wellbeing and currently serves as Graduate Medical Education Director of Resident and Fellow Wellbeing at the Yale-New Haven Hospital. Dr. Asnes also has a career-long interest in medical education. She has previously served as pediatric clerkship director, associate director of the MD/PhD program, and as pediatric residency program director at the Yale School of Medicine.

Raina Voss, MD 

Presentation: Supporting the Wellbeing of LGBTQ children, adolescents and young adults

Description: LGBTQ youth are at high risk for violence, victimization, and rejection. These factors impact their rates of mental illness, substance use, suicide, and homelessness. Understanding and affirming LGBTQ youth across various environments is a strategy for mitigating risk and poor health outcomes. This presentation will review basic concepts of gender identity and sexuality and what is known about the development of gender identity and sexuality during childhood and adolescence. We will explore the unique risks faced by these youth and discuss strategies for supporting LGBTQ youth through modification of environments and direct clinical care.

Biography: Dr. Voss is an attending physician in The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Lurie Children’s and an Instructor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. She is board certified in Pediatrics. Dr. Voss attended the University of Michigan for her B.S. as well as the University of Michigan Medical School. She completed her residency in Pediatrics at Lurie Children’s. She completed her fellowship in Adolescent Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital and earned her Master of Public Health degree at the University of Washington. Dr. Voss provides clinical care in the Gender Development Program and at the Erie Teen Health Center. In addition to the care of gender-diverse youth, Dr. Voss’ interests also include adolescent sexual health, adolescent primary care, and transition to adult healthcare for youth with chronic health conditions.

Antoinette L. Laskey, MD, MPH, MBA, FAAP

Presentation: Possible is seldom definite and only sometimes probable: communicating uncertainty

Description: Communicating clearly can be challenging, communicating uncertainty can be downright confusing.  This session will discuss uncertainty in diagnosis from a patient, provider and community partner perspective. 

It is well known that medical communication often fails to effectively communicate what it is the provider is trying to say.  This can be frightening and frustrating for both patients and medical providers.  When the medical issue is child abuse, clear communication is critical.  Many medical diagnoses have inherent uncertainty associated with them.  How that uncertainty is communicated is important to ensure that a patient hears what the provider is trying to say.  If the possible diagnosis is child abuse, there is another audience that needs to understand what is being said: the community partners who will be working with the child and family.  With all these different "consumers" of information, miscommunication can happen even if someone is careful.  How do we handle uncertainty in making a diagnosis?  How do we communicate uncertainty in our written and oral communications?  Do people really understand what we are trying to say?  Do we really understand what we're trying to say? We will explore some of the literature about uncertainty and communication and develop some strategies to approach cases that aren't black or white to try to be more clear about what we really can say.

Biography: Dr. Laskey completed her medical degree at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine followed by her pediatric residency at the University of Missouri-Columbia Hospitals and Clinics. She completed a research and clinical fellowship and a master’s degree in public health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She spent 9 years at Indiana University and Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis where she was the co-director of the Family Violence Institute.  She joined the University of Utah as the division chief of the Center for Safe and Healthy Families at Primary Children’s Hospital in 2012 and is a Professor of Pediatrics.  She is the fellowship director of the Child Abuse Pediatrics fellowship at the University of Utah and the Medical Director of the Children’s Justice Centers of Utah.  She has since completed her MBA at the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah. 

Dr. Laskey’s clinical interests relate to the evaluation and management of the potentially abused child. Her research interests include cognitive errors in decision making related to child maltreatment, child fatalities and prevention programs related to unsafe sleep practices and child abuse.  Dr. Laskey enjoys teaching multi-disciplinary audiences and presents on topics related to child maltreatment, cognitive errors, and the basics of business for healthcare professionals.

Rebecca Ford-Paz, PhD

Presentation: Evidence-Based Treatment for Survivors of Childhood Trauma

Biography: Rebecca Ford-Paz has nearly 20 years’ experience in community/school mental health. Her work focuses on reducing health disparities by increasing access to evidence-based and culturally attuned prevention/treatment interventions, building the capacity of community-based providers, and conducting community-based participatory research. Dr. Ford-Paz has a longstanding interest in Latinx mental health, and engages in clinical work, research, and advocacy with Latinx and immigrant/refugee populations. Dr. Ford-Paz specializes in culturally attuned cognitive behavioral therapy and is a certified trainer for the Unified Protocols for Transdiagnostic Treatment of Emotional Disorders in Children and Adolescents.

She is the founding co-chair of the Illinois Childhood Trauma Coalition’s Committee for Refugee and Immigrant Children and Trauma as well as the Mental Health and Wellness Subcommittee of the Chicago is With You Task Force in the Mayor’s Office of New Americans. Dr. Ford-Paz is also an Attending Clinical Child Psychologist within Lurie Children’s Pritzker Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health and Assistant Professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

She holds Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees from Northwestern University; a Master’s degree in Applied Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University; and a PhD in Clinical Psychology (Child Track) from DePaul University.

Megan Lerner, LCSW

Biography: Megan Lerner is a bilingual licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), who has been in practice for over thirteen years. She began her career at Children’s Memorial Hospital, where she was the first med/psych social worker in the hospital overnight. This sparked her passion for working with survivors of trauma and violence. After being an outpatient and urgent care mental health therapist at both Children’s Memorial and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, she now serves as the Clinical Coordinator of the Trauma Treatment Service, a multidisciplinary team providing evidence based treatment to childhood survivors of violence and trauma. Through group, individual, and family therapy interventions as well as medication support, she and the team lead the various forms of mental health care being provided at Lurie Children’s to survivors. She has extensive training in various trauma interventions including being a nationally certified Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) provider. Additionally, she has been awarded several grants to support this initiative, which is to provide comprehensive, evidenced based care to some of the most vulnerable youth and families in the Chicagoland and surrounding area.

Katherine Sullivan

Presentation: DNA in Criminal Sexual Assault Investigations

Description: overview of the forensic laboratory’s involvement in sexual assault investigation. Topics covered include types of evidence submitted in cases of sexual assault; the testing potential for those items of evidence; the types of testing performed, biological as well as DNA; the steps involved in obtaining a DNA profile; a discussion of DNA results interpretation, match determination, and statistical evaluation; and what can be done with unsourced DNA profiles. 

Biography: Kathy Sullivan has been a Forensic Scientist with the Illinois State Police for twenty-five years. She currently works in the areas of stain identification and DNA analysis in the Forensic Biology Section of the Forensic Science Laboratory in Joliet, Illinois. She has been active as a speaker and trainer in the applications of DNA technology for forensic cases. She has addressed many different groups, including high school and college students, clinical laboratory scientists, law enforcement personnel, attorneys, victims’ advocates, and nurses. Ms. Sullivan received her B.S. in Clinical Laboratory Science from Northern Illinois University in 1994.

Sarah Super 

Presentation: Trauma-Sensitive Yoga

Description: This session provides an introduction to the principles and practice of trauma-sensitive yoga. Participants will consider the importance of the somatic body in healing and the ways in which mind-body practices can facilitate healing or harm. Participants will also be given the option to participate in a brief trauma-sensitive yoga practice during this session. 

Biography: Sarah Super is a rape survivor, educator, and activist. She founded Break the Silence to create more invitations and platforms for survivors of sexual violence to organize for social change and publicly speak their truth. Sarah's professional background includes facilitating racial justice dialogues, teaching trauma-sensitive yoga, and training organizations in trauma-informed practices. Sarah earned bachelor's degrees in sociology and American studies and a master's in human resource development from the University of Minnesota. She is the 2017 recipient of the Community Leadership Award from the Hennepin County Attorney's Office. 

Susan Kahan, MA, LCPC

Presentation: Sexual Abuse and Developmental Disability: Overcoming Communication Barriers to Prevention, Investigation, and Intervention

Biography:  As a member of the clinical staff at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Institute on Disability and Human Development, Susan provides individual and group therapy for children through adults on a broad range of mental health, developmental, and behavioral concerns, specializing in Autism and trauma. Susan provides consultation and training for trauma centers, disability agencies, professionals, schools, and families on disability-related topics including trauma and trauma-informed care, sexual abuse prevention, and sexuality and healthy relationships. In addition, Susan is a certified Forensic Interviewer and serves as disability consultant to the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center, where she provides training and case consultation for forensic interviewers, clinicians, advocates, law enforcement, child protective services and Illinois State’s Attorney’s Office. In addition, Susan is an instructor for the Cook County Sheriff’s Bureau of Education and Training’s CIT training, and provides training for the Chicago Police Department new detectives on communication and disability. Susan presents nationally on topics related to disability and trauma, human trafficking, and sexual abuse prevention and intervention. She is a member of the Coalition against Sexual Abuse of Children with Disabilities and the National Human Trafficking and Disabilities Workgroup.


Registration is now closed. Please contact with any questions.

Accreditation Statement

The Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Credit Designation Statement

The Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine designates this live activity for a maximum of 9 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™.  Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.


  • List the components of a robust child abuse program to have in place before quality consultations for suspected physical abuse can be provided.
  • Understand how a child abuse consultation is most effectively framed.
  • Recall the current evidence basis for racial disparities and bias in the evaluation of child physical abuse.
  • Consider the underpinnings of these racial disparities.
  • Understand what types of evidence are helpful in investigating alleged sexual assaults.
  • Understand the steps involved in producing DNA profile results from evidence samples and reference standards.
  • Understand basic concepts and terms related to gender and sexuality.
  • Understand the unique risks and challenges faced by LGBTQ youth.
  • Identify signs and symptoms of trauma in pediatric populations.
  • Describe trauma-focused evidence-based treatment models (specifically Child Parent Psychotherapy; Attachment, Regulation, and Competency; Cognitive Processing Therapy; Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy).
  • Identify the ways in which trauma-sensitive yoga differentiates from other yoga practices.
  • Define developmental disability and Autism Spectrum Disorder and understand some of the communication characteristics that can present barriers to effective prevention, investigation and intervention in cases of sexual abuse.
  • Learn the risk factors for sexual abuse that increase the vulnerability of this population to sexual abuse.
  • Identify key factors that create uncertainty in a medical diagnosis.
  • Develop an approach to improve communication around issues of uncertainty.

Target Audience 

  • Physicians, Nurses, Social Workers, Trainees, Attorneys, and Law Enforcement


This year's symposium will take place virtually. 

Pricing Rates


  • 2-day: $120
  • 1-day: $60

Government/Nonprofit Employees, Lurie Children's Employees and Trainees:

  • 2-day: $80
  • 1-day: $40

More Information

Please contact with any questions.

2019 Highlights