After more than 20 years of serving abuse victims, Shelley Hamilton, LCSW, carries thousands of stories with her.

They are the little girl in a group therapy session who happily proclaimed that she felt “normal.” The supermarket checker who recognized Hamilton and thanked her – she had cared for him when he was in third grade; he’s now a student at UC Berkeley. The mother who tearfully confided that her daughter’s therapy has helped her heal from her own abuse.

The Center for Child Protection (CCP) at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland offers comprehensive medical and mental health services to children impacted by violence and abuse. It’s the only program of its kind in the Bay Area, reaching about 700 families each year.

“The services we provide truly save children’s lives,” says James Crawford-Jakubiak, MD, CCP’s medical director. “We can point a child’s life in a direction that might not otherwise happen if people didn’t advocate for them. It’s so important for kids to know that someone cares.”

Serving the Entire Family

In addition to medical care immediately following abuse, the CCP team delivers healing therapy sessions, guide families through the court system, and organize an annual summer camp for victims. Philanthropy is crucial to support this work. 

“Without donors, we wouldn’t be able to provide our full spectrum of critical services,” says Hamilton, CCP’s manager. “Donors help with everything, like providing options for new clothing to children when their clothes need to be taken as evidence. These are the kinds of things that seem small but really empower kids.” 

Gale Love, a speech-language pathologist in Marin, is one generous donor to the Center. “My hope is that by supporting this important work, I’m helping kids in horrific situations so they can grow up not letting that overwhelm who they are,” she says.

Preparing for the Next Wave

With the shelter-in-place order, Hamilton and Crawford-Jakubiak note, many children lost the safety net of people who might discover and report abuse – teachers, friends, grandparents. As a result, though abuse cases are believed to have climbed, the number of calls to Child Protective Services has decreased by half. 

“Once kids are able to be back in the world, we expect our caseload to go through the roof,” says Crawford-Jakubiak. “We’re bracing for a surge, and we’ll be here.”


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