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Police Action Counseling Team (PACT)

PACT provides crisis intervention to children who witness or have been victims of violence, to reduce trauma and to ultimately interrupt the cycle of family violence.

Historically, Chelsea has had high rates of child abuse and child neglect reports to the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families and high violence-related injuries in the community. Youth and family violence emerged as the main area of concern for the Chelsea community during a health assessment process completed by CCHI in 1996. In response, the Community Health Improvement Team of MGH Chelsea has developed programs, including PACT, to address and prevent such violence in its earliest stages. 

The goals of PACT (the Police Action Counseling Team), a partnership between MGH Chelsea and the Chelsea Police Department, are to facilitate the healing process and to strengthen the resiliency of children.   Clinical social workers from MGH Chelsea are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week for immediate, on-the-scene response to 911 calls of potential domestic violence when children are present.  Once police officers establish physical safety, the social workers provide on-site, developmentally appropriate interventions and psycho-education to help children express their feelings and concerns, through outlets such as drawing and the use of puppets, to manage symptoms of trauma.  The team assists child victims and their families in finding constructive means to reestablish stability after a traumatic event. In addition to direct services, PACT provides training to MGH psychology and social work interns, MGH psychiatry residents, and Harvard Medical School students, also offering them opportunities to ride with police officers as part of their training experience.
 

Outcomes

In 2013,

  • Chelsea police officers collaborated with PACT clinicians on 45 cases regarding 56 children, of which 94% were exposed to violence in the community. 9% of these children were injured in the incident and all of these children received medical care.
  • Among these cases, 56 percent had reports of suspected abuse or neglect (51-A’s) (89% filed by police); 50% of cases were directly related to domestic violence and 44% of cases had a history of domestic violence; 29% of cases had an emergency restraining order obtained.
  • Of the PACT cases, 61% of these contacts were face-to-face;  47% of contacts resulted in Safety Planning; 10 of these contacts resulted in re-training of police.
  • 56 referrals were made to families: 38% of cases were referred to HAVEN services and 56% were made to mental health services.
  • PACT participated in monthly CASA DIVERT meetings, in ongoing DCF Domestic Violence Case Reviews, and in training of Harvard Medical Students who rotate through CHC Pediatrics Department, orienting them to PACT, bringing them to a case review meeting at the police station, and arranging for a police ride along.
  • PACT trained three new police officers who joined the CPD in Child Development-Community Policing  principals and how to access PACT services.
  • PACT participated in training four Chelsea High School students who completed an internship at the Chelsea Police Department, and participated in a national evaluation for the Fred Rogers Co. of the police training curriculum, "One On One:  Connecting Cops and Kids," which is used in police training in Chelsea.    
  • Participated in a training through the Children's Trust Fund on a curriculum for training parents to keep children safe.  The focus was on prevention of sexual abuse. The goal is to provide this training at MGH Chelsea healthCare Center through Pediatrics and Behavioral Health services.

Luz Betancourt

Phone: 617 887-3789
Email: lbetancourt@partners.org