Supporting Tillamook’s Children: The Vital Role of the Child Abuse Assessment Program

When children in Tillamook County experience abuse or neglect, the Child Abuse Assessment Program provides critical support. Led by Maria Bateman, TFCC’s Child Abuse Assessment Program Manager, this program takes a trauma-informed, child-centered approach to caring for these vulnerable youth.

About the Program

The program brings together a diverse, dedicated multidisciplinary team of community professionals. This includes law enforcement officers, child protective services case workers, district attorney victim advocates, and behavioral and mental health providers. Together, they provide a coordinated response when allegations of abuse arise, with the shared goal of minimizing additional trauma to children.

At the heart of the program is the Child Assessment Center, a safe, welcoming facility where forensic services may be provided. Having this centralized location in Tillamook makes specialized services more readily accessible for families in crisis. It also enables seamless collaboration between community partner agencies. Children can receive forensic interviews, medical examinations, counseling referrals, and other support services in one youth-friendly setting. This reduces the need for children to repeatedly recount painful details to various professionals.

Maria’s passion for serving vulnerable children is evident. With an educational background in special education, psychology and is completing her dual Master’s degrees in Social Work and in Public Health Policy and Administration, under the supervision of Frank Hanna-Williams and Michele Riggs. She has over 20 years of experience helping children who have experienced trauma. Prior to joining the Tillamook team, Maria worked in a children’s crisis treatment center in Philadelphia, PA. This allowed her to understand best practices for assessment centers. As coordinator, Maria now ensures children receive trauma-informed care and that team members work together effectively.

Longevity of the Program

The program relies on strong community partnerships and grant funding. The team hopes to eventually transition into an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. This would allow them to expand services to better meet the needs of Tillamook County’s children and families. It would also help support the well-being of the team members involved, who often go above and beyond expectations to ensure this program continues.

Becoming a standalone nonprofit would allow the program to grow their services in order to serve more children and families. “Establishing centralized services for children victims will not only impact the health and wellbeing of the children, but the health and wellbeing of each multidisciplinary team member who serve them,” Maria said, “without centralized services, our children have to travel to out of county to have access to care from specially trained professionals, and our community-based response process suffers as well.”

Maria notes that a key strength of the program is the commitment of team members across law enforcement, healthcare, education and social services. Their shared dedication to protecting children unites the community around a common purpose. By working hand-in-hand, the Child Abuse Assessment Program strives to prevent abuse, support families in crisis, and foster healing for Tillamook County’s most vulnerable residents.