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Spurwink Center for Safe & Healthy Families


The Spurwink Center for Safe & Healthy Families, formerly known as the Child Abuse Program, was developed in 1994 in response to the need for expert diagnostic services for children who may have been abused. The program serves children throughout Maine with clinics in South Portland, Bangor, Lewiston, and Augusta. Annually the program evaluates approximately 1200 children and 250 adults.  The purpose of the Child Abuse Evaluation is to determine the existence and extent of any child abuse and the emotional, physical and behavioral effects of such abuse. We utilize a multidisciplinary team of medical and mental health professionals to provide the most accurate diagnosis and the best treatment recommendations possible for each individual case. The clinical staff has had extensive training and experience in evidence based forensic child abuse evaluations and treatment. In addition, the staff is actively involved in peer review, clinical research, publication, and teaching. Our services include:



Our counseling services are committed to treating the after-effects of a child’s traumatic experience. In addition, the program works to support the recovery of family members…

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and to improve their ability to support the child. Our counselors are Licensed Clinical Social Workers and are trained in evidence based treatment. The staff’s expertise is in treating childhood traumatic events including neglect; physical and sexual abuse; domestic, school, and community violence; and natural disasters.


The evaluation includes an interview of the parent or guardian and an examination of the child by the program medical director, a board certified pediatrician…

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or by the program child abuse nurse practitioner. The evaluation results in a medical diagnosis pertaining to the question of abuse and includes recommendations for medical and mental health treatment. This evaluation is often combined with the psychosocial/evidentiary interview to provide a detailed picture of the family for further assessment and treatment recommendations. These medical clinicians also provide inpatient consultations at Maine Medical Center and at Eastern Maine Medical Center.


These assessments of children are completed by specially trained master’s level mental health clinicians not only to obtain specific information regarding abuse concerns…

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but also to gather information regarding the child’s psychological and emotional functioning. The assessment of the existence and extent of trauma for the purposes of guiding future treatment is a critical component of this assessment. The interview of the child is conducted in a neutral and safe environment to specifically address the question of abuse and arrive at a diagnosis based on the best standards of evidence.


The team evaluates youth, age 12-18, with problematic sexual behavior for risk assessment of continued sexual behavior problems. The evaluation includes an interview…

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of the parent or guardian, an interview of the child, and psychological testing of the child.


provides a medical and psychological screening for children newly placed in foster care to assist providers with appropriate treatment.

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Currently the Spurwink Center for Safe & Healthy Families serves children placed in care through the Biddeford and Portland DHHS office.


provides diagnostic evaluations and follow up for children with failure to thrive. Once a diagnosis of failure to thrive has been established…

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through a medical examination provided by a child abuse pediatrician, the child is followed din the clinic which includes collaboration between the doctor, a nutritionist and a case manager to ensure that the complex needs necessary to gain weight are being met.


The program provides 24 hour telephone medical consultations to professionals throughout the state.


Spurwink is the fiscal owner and physical site of the Cumberland County Child advocacy center which provides forensic interviews…

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and medical examinations of children suspected of sexual abuse. This will be a collaborative, coordinated approach that involves partnership with DHHS, Law enforcement, Prosecution and advocacy.


The program provides ongoing training at Maine Medical Center for medical students, residents, and attendings.

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The program provides focused rotations for medical students and residents in our offices. We also provide annual training for DHHS caseworkers and for medical and mental health providers around the state.


Dr Ricci and Ms Camire provide 24/7 consultation for caseworkers including record review…

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x-ray review at outlying hospitals, coordination of services with other medical providers, review of photographs.


Program staff are active in a number of local and state initiatives including the child death review panel…

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Maine children’s trust, sexual abuse forensic nurse, children’s advocacy centers, shaken baby prevention, safe sleep, mandatory reporter training. The program also runs an annual two day conference on child abuse.


Includes two child abuse pediatricians, two nurse practitioners, three master level clinicians, and three psychologists.

In summary, child abuse evaluations at the Spurwink Center for Safe & Healthy Families may include a general physical examination, specific child abuse examination, growth, behavior and developmental screening, psychosocial evaluation of the child, evidentiary interview of the child, psychological evaluation of the child, parent/child interaction assessment, team discussion, and final summary report. The end result of the Child Abuse Evaluation is a legally defensible forensic diagnosis and treatment recommendations for the child and family. The guiding philosophy of the Spurwink Center for Safe & Healthy Families is the protection of children from abuse and the preservation and promotion of safe and healthy families through rigorously applied, scientifically supported diagnosis and treatment. An accurate diagnosis serves the best interest of the child and family by assuring appropriate treatment and avoiding the costly results of an inaccurate diagnosis (such as further abuse because of a missed diagnosis or inappropriate intervention if abuse is incorrectly diagnosed).

Joyce Wientzen, LCSW Program Director
Amanda Brownell, MD Program Medical Director
Spurwink Center for Safe & Healthy Families


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