Medical Evaluation Response Initiative Team (MERIT)

The Medical Evaluation Response Initiative Team (MERIT) is an innovative program developed by health care providers in collaboration with the University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford, the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) and the Carrie Lynn Children’s Center.
At MERIT, it is our vision to be a child-centered, community-based program dedicated to providing all children suspected of being physically or sexually abused or neglected with timely expert medical evaluations and treatment, as well as serving the community as a resource for prevention, research and education.

Why the need for MERIT?

Significant barriers exist that prevent suspected victims of child abuse and neglect from receiving expert and timely medical evaluations. This has led to problems in the investigation process, making it more difficult for DCFS to intervene appropriately.
In addition, many physicians have not received adequate training in abuse and neglect, which has led to medical opinions that differ from those of experts. This often creates difficulties in the prosecution of offenders and frequently requires unnecessary court appearances by physicians inexperienced in child abuse and neglect. By providing an evidence-based, expertly trained referral source, these problems can be addressed.

How does MERIT work?

  • The MERIT case coordinator will receive requests for evaluation of suspected child abuse from DCFS, law enforcement, emergency medicine physicians and/or primary care providers. The coordinator will arrange for consults and second opinions from other child advocacy centers (CACs) or DCFS investigators in the Northwest Illinois region.
  • The MERIT coordinator will assign the case to one of the providers, who will collaborate with investigative and medical personnel as needed.
  • Upon completion of the expert evaluation, the MERIT provider will review results of the evaluation with the appropriate parties.
  • An expert medical opinion will be rendered as to the probability of an injury being accidental, caused by abuse or indeterminate in nature.

Case referral criteria:

  • Any child under the age of 18 years old suspected of being abused or neglected
  • Requests made by DCFS, emergency medicine physicians, primary care providers and law enforcement
  • Consults and/or second opinions from any CAC or other child protective services in the Northwest Illinois region

For more information or to request an evaluation, please contact:

Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
2350 North Rockton Avenue
Suite 204
Rockford, Illinois 61103
Tel: (815) 395-8812
Fax: (815) 963-8752

Every 10 seconds a report of child abuse is made in the United
States, with an average of four to seven children lost every day to abuse and neglect.