Minnesota child protection workers have options in addressing common issues with training & accessibility

Dr. Mark Hudson
Dr. Mark Hudson

Dr. Mark Hudson has conducted dozens of training courses throughout his career. “Some of the most rewarding training work I’ve done has much more participation than lecturing. I recently did a training at a mental health conference with CentraCare. Everyone there was interested in going off-topic and talking about anything that came up in the conversation. It was wonderful.”

Dr. Hudson is a leading Board-certified child abuse pediatrician, instructor, and thinker in the realm of child protection and pediatrics. He carries a sense of pride when he talks about his work educating physicians, attorneys, child protection workers, law enforcement, mental health professionals, and all members of multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) around the country working to protect and evaluate the safety of children.

Today Dr. Hudson is the Medical Director at the Midwest Children’s Resource Center in Minnesota. Coupled with his Executive Director position at the Midwest Regional Child Advocacy Center, he and his colleagues have the platform to provide thousands of child protection advocates and MDT members across the 12-state Midwest region and the US with more advanced training and best practices.

“There are two big problems with providing training and continuing education to MDTs and child advocates today,” says Dr. Hudson. “I have an obvious interest in the medical component of child protection. So, the first thing we have to continue working on is recognition.” Dr. Hudson cites research from Milwaukee where about 25% of children suffering from head trauma or abuse had a previously unrecognized injury and many of these injuries were known to physicians who failed to recognize a sign of abuse. “We have a lot of work to do around recognition and also making sure kids get an appropriate evaluation when they are identified,” says Dr. Hudson.

The second problem Dr. Hudson mentions is a lack of available time for people to attend. “Every event and training we provide through Midwest Regional is there to make everyone’s work life easier,” says Dr. Hudson. He cites accessibility as a problem everywhere, but online seminars and teleconferences have shrunk the distance people have to go for quality continuing education. “Through the Midwest Regional Child Advocacy Center, we’re re-launching a newly formatted Medical Training Academy we’re excited about,” says Dr. Hudson. Dr. Hudson and multiple other instructors in a variety of disciplines are routinely traveling the state’s urban, rural, and tribal regions to bring more and better information to Minnesota’s multidisciplinary teams.

In Minnesota, we’re really lucky. We have a highly educated, trained, workforce amongst child protection workers and law enforcement. Without exception, they want to do the best job they can…

“In Minnesota, we’re really lucky. We have a highly educated, trained, workforce amongst child protection workers and law enforcement. Without exception, they want to do the best job they can,” says Dr. Hudson. He adds, “We want to fill in some of the gaps related to the medical evaluation”. The training done by us or through other hospitals like the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic are trying to provide information as well as the rationale behind the recommendations for what should happen during the investigation and treatment of a child.”

Over the past year, Dr. Hudson has helped shepherd a new level of statewide medical training with the Alliance. This partnership has helped teach and expand the knowledge of law enforcement, social workers, and other MDT members and child protection advocates. Dr. Hudson was one of several speakers at the 2016 Stand Against Child Abuse Conference.

Dr. Hudson says, “A lot of what we do and teach doesn’t have a high cost in time or money. The access barrier is a bigger issue where some areas of the state may not have many services, but we’re reaching out. When we look at the recognition and assessment of current and past injuries of children, there’s not a high barrier to implementation there, either. You just need to remember to ask yourself if you see a bruise on a baby, is that something we should be worried about?”

“Sometimes funding is tight in a lot of agencies and for individuals to attend training.” As a result, the Alliance, Midwest Regional Child Advocacy Center, and partners are evaluating formats. “Many prefer a live training, with interaction, but that’s not always possible. There are advantages and disadvantages to the duration and style of any teaching format,” says Dr. Hudson.

“Certainly, every audience is different, but when we think about our Court Prep training for instance, which is a lot of fun because it is very interactive, we sometimes prefer to go off-topic. It makes for a much better seminar for everyone in attendance.”

The Minnesota Children’s Alliance has compiled a list of workshops, conferences, and training events viewable at https://minnesotachildrensalliance.org/upcoming-events/.