Medical Evaluation Response Initiative Team (MERIT)
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What is MERIT? Heading link
All children suspected of being abused or neglected deserve a medical exam in a child-sensitive environment with a professional who is specially trained in obtaining medical histories of abuse and identifying and differentiating accidental injuries from abuse.
The Medical Evaluation Response Initiative Team (MERIT) is the only program in the area that provides specialized, pediatric expert medical exams in a child-friendly atmosphere to suspected victims of child abuse and neglect.
The Department of Child and Family Services, Children’s Advocacy Centers, law enforcement and physicians in Northern Illinois rely on MERIT to provide objective, balanced and defensible diagnoses and offer insight into children’s experiences and treatment needs. MERIT providers also review medical records to provide second opinions to assist in determining whether abuse has occurred and can provide expert testimony when requested.
Why the need for MERIT? Heading link
Significant barriers exist that prevent suspected victims of child abuse and neglect from receiving help. 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. This often creates difficulties in the prosecution of offenders. By providing an evidence-based, expertly trained referral source, these problems can be addressed.
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Fast Facts From 2022 Heading link
403 Children seen by MERIT providers
108 Prosecutorial cases reviewed
21 Medical and nursing students trained