Child Maltreatment Symposium 2023

Thursday and Friday, October 26-27, 2023

The Protective Services Team invites all professionals whose work involves interaction with child abuse and neglect to the 2023 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.


Topics will include

  • Interpreter-Mediated Child Physical Abuse Assessments: Unique Challenges and Considerations
  • Advocating for LGBTQIA+ Youth in Care at the Macro and Micro Level
  • Multidisciplinary Approach to Evaluation of Child Abuse
  • Advocacy Efforts When State Law Does Not Meet the Safety Needs of Children
  • Creating the Conditions for All Children, Families and Communities to Thrive
  • Public Benefits and Child Maltreatment: Implications for Prevention and Equity
  • Child Physical Abuse During COVID-19
  • Supporting the Wellbeing of LGBTQIA+ Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults
  • Art Therapy & Trauma


  • Review of the evidence for public benefits a prevention strategy for child maltreatment.
  • Identify the challenges inherent in interpreter-mediated medical assessments, understand how such challenges are intensified during child physical abuse assessments, and recognize how this contributes to health care disparities.
  • Review important components of police investigation in child abuse investigations
  • Participants will examine programmatic, policy and systemic level solutions to prevent child abuse and neglect.
  • Discuss risk factors and health disparities among LGBTQ youth
  • Participants will identify ways to enhance their LGBTQIA+ advocacy through consistent attorney development and office culture
  • Participants will discuss poverty and its contribution to child neglect.

Continuing Education

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 9.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity

American Board of Surgery Accredited CME and Self-Assessment

Successful completion of this CME activity, which includes participation in the evaluation component, enables the learner to earn credit toward the CME and Self-Assessment requirements of the American Board of Surgery's Continuous Certification program. It is the CME activity provider's responsibility to submit learner completion information to the ACCME for the purpose of granting ABS credits.

Target Audience

  • Physicians
  • Pediatricians
  • Nurses
  • Social Workers
  • Attorneys
  • Law Enforcement
  • Case Workers
  • Students


This year's agenda:

Thursday, October 26

9:00 - 9:10 a.m. Welcome & Housekeeping
9:10 - 10:10 a.m. Jessalyn Shaw, MD "Interpreter-Mediated Child Physical Abuse Assessments: Unique Challenges and Considerations"
10:10 - 11:10 a.m. Ulysses Rosales, JD, Kevin Jeremiah, JD, Sarah Donovan, JD "Advocating for LGBTQIA+ Youth in Care at the Macro and Micro Level"
11:10 - 11:25 a.m. Break
11:25 a.m. - 12:25 p.m. Melissa Manrique, MD, & Jennifer Hillgoth, MJ "Multidisciplinary Approach to Evaluation of Child Abuse"
12:25 - 1:30 p.m. Lunch
1:30 - 2:30 p.m. Lisa Mathey, APRN "The Importance of Pediatric Evidence Based Practice in Sexual Assault Laws"
2:30 - 3:30 p.m. Melissa Merrick, PhD "Creating the Conditions for All Children, Families, and Communities to Thrive"

Friday, October 27

8:00 - 9:00 a.m. Hank Puls, MD "Public Benefits and Child Maltreatment: Implications for Prevention and Equity"
9:00 - 9:10 a.m. Welcome & Housekeeping
9:10 - 10:10 a.m. Hank Puls, MD "Child Physical Abuse During COVID-19"
10:10 - 10:25 a.m. Break  
10:25 - 11:25 a.m. Janay Joyce, LCSW & Nathanael Nash, LCSW "Supporting the Wellbeing of LGBTQIA+ Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults"
11:25 a.m. - 12:25 p.m. Marni Rosen, Psy.D, Willow Messier, MAAT "When There Are No Words, Find a Crayon: Art Therapy with Child Survivors"

Speaker Topics & Bios


  • "Public Benefits and Child Maltreatment: Implications for Prevention and Equity"
    Dr. Puls will review the link between poverty and child maltreatment, how public benefit programs reduce poverty, and the evidence base for public benefit programs a likely prevention for child maltreatment. He will review the evidence concerning how public benefit programs may (or may not) be addressing racial and ethnic disparities in child maltreatment. Finally, Dr. Puls will highlight recent successes in these areas and additional opportunities for research and advocacy going forward. This lecture should empower clinicians, academics, and child advocates to view public benefit programs, such as Medicaid and food stamps, not just as means of accessing health care and food, but also as prevention strategies for child maltreatment.

  • "Child Physical Abuse During Covid-19"
    Dr. Puls will discuss why there were reasonable fears for a “child abuse epidemic” early during the COVID-19 pandemic. He will then provide a critical review of the available literature and discuss why the observed trends may (or may not) represent truth. 


Dr. Puls is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Children's Mercy Kansas City, in the Division of Pediatric Hospital Medicine. The overarching goal of Dr. Puls’ research agenda is to reduce child maltreatment, particularly physical abuse among infants and young children. In pursuit of this goal, he is actively engaged in research investigating public policies and programs with the capacity to improve the well-being of children and families. He is also interested in improving the equitable and accurate identification and reporting of child maltreatment within health care systems. He has over 30 peer-reviewed publications in the areas of child maltreatment, public policy and the social determinants of health. He is a current member of the Academic Pediatric Association's Public Policy and Advocacy Committee, co-Chair for the Child Abuse Special Interest Group, and prior member of the State of Missouri's Child Fatality Review Subcommittee on Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities. He's also a recovering Ethics Committee Chair and pediatric bioethicist consultant. 


"Creating the Conditions for All Children, Families and Communities to Thrive"


Dr. Merrick will discuss research related to adverse childhood experiences, positive childhood experiences, poverty, and child neglect. She will discuss solutions for preventing child abuse and neglect, including strategies at the program, policy and systems level. She will share ideas and examples of primary prevention happening at the national level, including the building of a comprehensive and aligned primary prevention ecosystem.


Melissa T. Merrick, PhD, is President and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America (PCA America), the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit organization dedicated to the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect. She has more than 20 years of clinical, research, and leadership experience related to the etiology, course, and prevention of child abuse and neglect.

Previously, Dr. Merrick was a senior epidemiologist at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in Atlanta. She is recognized as one of the country’s foremost experts on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs): in partnership with the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Child Abuse and Neglect, she served for 8 years as the lead scientist for the ACEs study at CDC and is the lead author of CDC’s Vital Signs: ACEs, the most nationally representative report on the topic.

Dr. Merrick successfully leverages her significant clinical and research experiences to communicate and disseminate the critical public health importance of preventing early adversity to key stakeholders with diverse priorities, backgrounds, and knowledge, including legislators, business and civic leaders, and members of the academic and medical communities. She is one of the principal architects of Thriving Families, Safer Children: A National Commitment to Well-being, an effort that aims to reshape child welfare in the United States by focusing explicitly on equity and prevention. Thriving Families unites PCA America, the Children’s Bureau, Annie E. Casey Foundation, and Casey Family Programs, among numerous other local partners, to proactively create the conditions and contexts for strong families and communities across the country.

Dr. Merrick received her BA in psychology, magna cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania, and her master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from the San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego, joint doctoral program in clinical psychology, where she served as a program coordinator for the San Diego site of the Longitudinal Studies on Child Abuse and Neglect consortium. Dr. Merrick was a National Institutes of Health-funded postdoctoral fellow at the University of Miami Child Protection Team (CPT), where she was involved in a multi-site program of research that examined child maltreatment risk and protective factors in families evaluated by CPTs across the state of Florida.

Dr. Merrick is married and has two young children who are still enthralled by the novelty of snow in Chicago.


"Interpreter-Mediated Child Physical Abuse Assessments: Unique Challenges and Considerations"


A Child Abuse Pediatrician’s role is to evaluate injuries in children and assess whether such findings are attributable to abusive vs. non-abusive causes. A key factor in this determination is the caregiver’s detailed report of how an injury occurred. In combination with other essential information, if the caregiver’s account of events does not plausibly explain the child’s injury, then abuse must be considered. A suspected diagnosis of abuse carries medical, social, and potential legal ramifications, and may lead to involvement of Child Protective Services, law enforcement, and the court system. Accurate and thorough communication of events surrounding a child’s injury is therefore crucial.

But what happens when language barriers prevent caregivers from being able to fully communicate their injury histories, or caregivers’ histories are misunderstood by medical providers due to language discordance?

This session will explore some of the challenges unique to interpreter-mediated healthcare encounters, including:

  1. The high frequency of interpreter alterations and their potential consequences;
  2. The presence of linguistic and cultural heterogeneity even among speakers of the same language;
  3. Interpreter secondary traumatic stress and the impact this can have on child physical abuse assessments; and
  4. The lack of standardized national guidelines for medical interpreter training, and the lack of standardized medical provider training on working with interpreters successfully.


Jessalyn Shaw, MD is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern School of Medicine and an Attending Physician in the Division of Child Abuse Pediatrics at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. She received her undergraduate degree in Spanish at Duke University, attended medical school at Boston University School of Medicine, and completed her Pediatric Residency and Child Abuse Pediatrics Fellowship at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Her interests include medical education, interpreter use in the medical setting, the effect of parental leave policies on child maltreatment, and the intersection between child abuse, domestic violence, and animal cruelty. 


"Advocating for LGBTQIA+ Youth in Care at the Macro and Micro Level"


The Office of the Cook County Public Guardian represents 7,000 abused, neglected, and/or dependent children that range in age from one day to 21-years-old. LGBTQIA+ youth in care are over-represented in the foster care population and face discrimination and hardships that their non-LGBTQIA+ peers do not. Policies, regulations, and laws do not ensure affirming medical care, service providers, and stable placements for LGBTQIA+ youth in care. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) published a procedure titled Appendix K in 2017. Appendix K outlined protections for LGBTQIA+ youth in care as well as mandatory LGBTQIA+ training for caseworkers, foster parents, and providers. We will provide examples of how Appendix K has impacted our clients and how the implementation of Appendix K could be expanded and improved. Advocacy strategies and tools will be presented as well as statements, critiques, and recommendations from youth in care. We will lead discussions of scenarios facing advocates in various settings. Finally, we will discuss ideas on how to make office culture more inclusive and affirming.


Kevin Jeremiah, JD, is a supervising attorney in the juvenile division of the Office of the Cook County Public Guardian. He also serves as a co-coordinator of LBGTQIA+ services and as a member of the State of Illinois Child Welfare Advisory Sub Committee on Diversity and Inclusion. Kevin was faculty at the 2021 NACC Conference presenting on Advocating for LBGTQIA+ youth in care and testified in front of the Illinois Senate regarding the importance of LBGTQIA+ advocacy and the need for services for youth in care.

Ulysses Rosales, JD is a supervising attorney with the Cook County Public Guardian’s Juvenile Division. He represents children in abuse and neglect cases. Ulysses serves as one of the LGBTQIA+ co-coordinators for the office’s LGBTQIA+ clients. Ulysses also serves as the Burgos co-coordinator, which provides assistance on cases involving Spanish-speaking families. He has served on the training and hiring committees for the office. He presented at the National Black Child Development Institute Conference regarding juvenile court proceedings. He has also presented at the Youth in Systems Summit and the National Child Welfare Law Conference regarding LGBTQIA+ youth in the child welfare system. Recently, he presented at the ABA Access to Justice Children and Family Conference regarding the importance of utilizing multi tiered, subject-matter advocacy to achieve equity and access to justice for youth in care. Ulysses currently serves on the steering committee for the Illinois LGBTQIA+ Roundtable. Ulysses is a graduate of Valparaiso University Law School and Purdue University.

Sarah Donovan is a senior attorney with the Cook County Public Guardian’s Juvenile Division. She represents children in abuse and neglect cases as well as youth in delinquency cases. She serves on the hiring committee as well as the LGBTQIA+ co-coordinator for the office. Sarah graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Bowdoin College and attended the University of Pennsylvania Law School where she was an articles editor on the Journal of Law and Social Change. She is a member of the Chicago Bar Association and enjoys rowing and traveling


"Multidisciplinary Approach to Evaluation of Child Abuse”


In this presentation, co-presenters will use case-based examples to explain how a multi-disciplinary approach can be beneficial in cases with concern for child abuse. Dr. Manrique will highlight important components in the medical evaluation of injuries while Detective Hillgoth will discuss how to conduct LE/DCFS investigations when there is a concern for maltreatment.


Melissa Manrique, MD, graduated with a BS in Psychology from Duke University and obtained her medical degree from Rush Medical College in Chicago. She then completed her pediatric residency at Children's Memorial Hospital (now Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago). Since 2007, Dr. Manrique has worked as both a pediatric hospitalist and child abuse physician for Central DuPage Hospital and Lurie Children's. 

At Central Du Page Hospital, Dr. Manrique has leadership roles as the Pediatric Hospitalist Site Leader and as the Chair of the Children Protection Committee. Dr. Manrique organizes and runs monthly child protection meetings with various multi-disciplinary team members which including nurses, social workers, law enforcement, D.C.F.S. and Child Advocacy Center team members. She has presented numerous times for both health care and non-health care professionals on identifying and evaluating child abuse. Dr. Manrique’s commitment and service to children and families continues in her role with the Safety and Well-Being (SAW) Clinic in Winfield, Illinois, where Dr. Manrique provides evaluations and services to pediatric patients in western suburbs.


Detective Jennifer Hillgoth is a native to the Chicagoland area where she lives with her husband and two children. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Psychology from Aurora University in Aurora, Illinois. She is currently working on her Master of Jurisprudence in Children’s Law and Policy from Loyola University of Chicago and will begin her position as Adjunct Professor, in the fall of 2023 at Aurora University for Forensic Investigation of Child Abuse and Neglect. 

Ms. Hillgoth joined the Montgomery Police Department in 2003 after graduating from the Illinois State Police Academy. In 2004, Ms. Hillgoth joined the Aurora Police Department and was assigned to the patrol division where she worked as a patrol officer, field training officer and TASER instructor. After being assigned to the patrol division for 9 years, she transferred to the Bureau of Investigations where she became a school resource officer. In 2014, Ms. Hillgoth became a detective and began investigating crimes against children. 

Ms. Hillgoth continues to lead child maltreatment investigations and has investigated hundreds of cases involving crimes against children while working closely with prosecutors, Child Advocacy Centers, child abuse pediatricians, the Department of Children and Family Services (D.C.F.S) and federal investigative agencies such as the FBI, Homeland Security and the US Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force. In 2021, she became certified as an expert witness in child abuse. Since 2015, Ms. Hillgoth has been a child forensic interviewer and has conducted numerous forensic interviews with child victims, child witnesses and adult victims with special needs. She has also received additional training for conducting child forensic interviews with child sex trafficking victims.   

During her time as detective, Ms. Hillgoth has brought forth many changes to her agency. She implemented the use of demonstration dolls for child abuse and death investigations, facilitated training on child sex trafficking for her department and has trained hundreds of officers within her own agency on child abuse and death. Ms. Hillgoth created a sensitive interview room where interviews are conducted in a supportive setting for child abuse victims and adult survivors of sexual abuse. She also partnered with Bright Horizons to create trauma-informed spaces within the police department that best serve child victims, witnesses and families with children who need further assistance from law enforcement after enduring a crisis or traumatic event.

Additionally, Ms. Hillgoth created and implemented the Aurora Police Special Needs Program, a program designed to help residents communicate their unique and individualized needs to first responders. The program also assists first responders in their efforts at response modifications and interactions during an emergency or crisis. Ms. Hillgoth managed the program for several years as the designated coordinator.  

Ms. HIllgoth has been honored with several awards including merit awards and commendations. In 2019, she was named Officer of the Year at the Aurora Police Department. She is a member with the Central DuPage Hospital Child Protection Team, the Illinois Child Death Review Team, the Child Maltreatment Community Advisory Board at Lurie Children’s, the Illinois Family Violence Coordinating Council (FVCC), 16th and 23rd Judicial Circuits Child/Youth Safety Committee, the FVCC Kane County MDT, the FVCC Steering Committee. She previously served on both the Child Maltreatment Conference Committee for Northwestern Delnor Hospital and Delnor Hospital’s Child Protection Team. 

A well-known advocate for children in her area, Ms. Hillgoth became sworn as C.A.S.A. (Court Appointed Special Advocate) in 2023. She teaches and speaks on several disciplines including law enforcement, child advocacy centers, child protective services, educators, attorneys, social workers, child life specialists and C.A.S.A. with regard to recognizing and investigating allegations of child abuse and death. She has been a repeat guest instructor for Aurora University, presented for The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC), Children’s Advocacy Centers of Mississippi, Louisiana Supreme Court, DCFS and C.A.S.A., The Children’s Advocacy Center of Illinois, Prevent Child Abuse, Northwestern Medicine, Lurie Children’s, The Family Violence Coordinating Council (16th and 23rd Judicial Circuits), Family Violence Coordinating Council (22nd Judicial Circuit), the Child Advocacy Center of McHenry County, the Child Advocacy Center of DuPage County, the Child Advocacy Center of Rock Island County,  Kane County Major Crimes Task Force and several Mobile Training Units throughout the state of Illinois. 


"Supporting the Wellbeing of LGBTQIA+ Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults"


Gender affirming care, in its many forms, is pertinent to healthcare overall. For LGBTQIA+ children, youth, and their families that healthcare must involve an understanding of their experiences within the health care system. We hope to empower participants to find ways to continue to improve, not only our personal practices but the larger systems at play in the lives of LGBTQIA+ youth and their families.    

Our presentation will aim to inform participants of the various components of overall wellbeing of LGBTQIA+ children, adolescents, and young adults. We will review terminology, concepts, risk factors and offer recommendations for affirming LGBTQIA+ youth in a variety of environments.  

Our hope is participants walk away with information that will support them in caring for LGBTQIA+ youth. 


Janay Joyce, LCSW, Social Worker in the Gender Development Program at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

Janay Joyce is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with experience supporting families, children, and adolescents, in community, medical and mental health settings since 2004. Janay joined the Gender & Sex Development team five years ago after serving as the social worker in Lurie Children’s Primary Care Clinic for three years. As the Gender Program social worker, she provides ongoing patient centered and strengths-based support to patients and families. In this role, Janay provides linkage to community resources and mental health supports as well as ongoing care to patients and families as they navigate through our program. In addition to her work at Lurie Children’s, she has provided youth and family centered support at Youth Outreach Services, Alternatives Inc. and North Lawndale College Prep High School. Janay Joyce received her Master’s in Social Work from Case Western Reserve University and has been a Licensed Clinical Social Worker since 2008. Janay strongly encourages patients and families who are interested in our program to reach out!


Nate Nash (he/him) is a licensed clinical social worker representing medical social work with the Gender Development Program at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, a multidisciplinary team designed to support the physical and psychosocial health of children and adolescents. Mr. Nash joined the Gender Development Program after conducting HIV research for three years in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Lurie Children’s. He works alongside families of gender diverse youth at various stages of their respective gender journeys in completing readiness for various medical interventions related to transitioning, connecting families to ongoing support services, and working alongside adolescents as they navigate through the program. Mr. Nash recently attended the WPATH Scientific Symposium in Montreal, Canada to present on collaboration processes with outside providers. Mr. Nash completed his Bachelor of Social Work at Ball State University and Master of Social Work at Indiana University Purdue University. Mr. Nash received his LCSW in 2021.


When There Are No Words, Find a Crayon: Art Therapy with Child Survivors 


Marni Rosen, Psy.D ATR-BC, is the Director of Behavioral Health of Midwest Refuah Health Center, a growing non-profit medical center serving the Orthodox Jewish Community. She is a licensed clinical psychologist and a board-certified art therapist having graduated from Adler University in 2011. She specializes in trauma-centered psychotherapy and the application of art therapy with anxiety and stress related disorders. She served as the practice director and founding board member of the Institute for Therapy through the Arts in its establishment as an independent non-profit. She is a supervisor, consultant, and trainer on trauma-centered psychotherapy and art therapy in addition to a published author on the subjects of Adlerian art therapy with survivors of sexual assault, developmental transformation art therapy, and Adlerian theory and the psychology of religion.


"Recognizing the Need for Pediatric EBP in Sexual Assault Laws"


As healthcare providers we rely on data and research to provide high quality, evidence-based care to the patients we serve. As citizens we rely on laws to protect ourselves and those in our community.  This talk reviews challenges that occur when sexual assault laws that mandate healthcare to patients do not incorporate evidence-based practice specific to children.  


Registrants will have the option of attending either in-person or virutally.

In-Person Location

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago
11th Floor Conference Center
225 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60611


Virtual attendees will receive a link to the 2023 Virtual Child Maltreatment Symposium prior to the conference.

Pricing Rates

In Person:

  • Regular - $125/day
  • Discounted for Lurie Children's Employees & Partners - $100/day


  • Regular - $75/day
  • Discounted for Lurie Children's Employees & Partners - $60/day



Options are as follows - please note that no parking will be reimbursed or sponsored by Lurie Children's or event staff:

  • Northwestern Memorial Hospital  - Huron/Superior Garage (closest option): $56 per day, to be paid by attendee.
  • Spot Hero App: to be paid by attendee.

More Information

Please contact with any questions.