Encouraging discussion and action against child abuse through art
The Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect (ICAN) was created in 1977 by order of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to develop and coordinate services for the prevention, identification and treatment of child abuse and neglect in Los Angeles County.
By 2000, the membership in ICAN had grown from 9 department heads to 32 city, county, state and federal agencies.
ICAN became the largest county-based multi-agency child abuse council on the nation.
The Council established 15 working task forces and committees, 5 annual conferences and has published 3 annual reports on the State of Child Abuse in LA County, Infant Safe Surrender, and Child Death Review. The ICAN Child Death Review Team was the first in the nation and is now replicated in all states and in 13 foreign countries.
In 2005, ICAN became the National Center on Child Fatality Review.
In 2016, ICAN was recognized as the best Multi-disciplinary child abuse team by the Inter-National Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.
Deanne Tilton Durfee has served as the Council’s Executive Director since it was established.
In 1978, ICAN formed a unique public/private partnership with ICAN Associates, as the non-profit 501c3 charity to support programs and projects recommended by ICAN.
ICAN Associates, founded by Elaine and Alex Trebek, brought business leaders and celebrities together, electing Christina Crawford as their first President.
The first project of the Associates was the Neighborhood Family Center network, a program model now replicated throughout the country.
The Associates have sponsored events, conferences, Public Services announcements, educational material and children’s holiday parties.
The ICAN/ICAN Associates Child Abuse Prevention Children’s Poster Art contest, led by Beverly Kurtz and Sabina Alvarez, has inspired artwork from thousands of children.
Actress and producer Lindsay Wagner joined ICAN Associates in 1984, and currently serves as President.
ICAN’s work is conducted from a multidisciplinary perspective and requires the involvement of representatives from multiple County, City, State and sometimes Federal agencies. As a result, ICAN has solid working relationships and connections with other agencies and organizations, working collaboratively with professionals and volunteers involved in the protection and well-being of children.
ICAN formed the first Child Death Review Team (CDRT) in 1978 and there are now Teams in most counties in the State, as well as in all States and numerous other countries. We produce an annual report on child fatalities that includes demographic data, modes and causes of death, lessons learned from our ongoing reviews, identification of risk factors for abuse/neglect – particularly fatal abuse/neglect and recommendations for changes in policies, service provision and needed training.
ICAN also formed a Child and Adolescent Suicide Review Team (CASRT), which is very unique and has enabled county, city and state agencies to more fully examine prevention efforts for child and adolescent suicide. This Team developed an investigative tool for Coroner investigators to use when they are in the field investigating a youth suicide. Lessons learned and recommendations from this Team are included in the annual Child Death Review Team Report.
Child Abduction Task Force – ICAN formed the multidisciplinary Child Abduction Task Force to work both on assisting law enforcement and other agencies in locating abducted children and to provide reunification counseling for children and their families when a child is recovered. Most of the cases that this task force works on are cases where DCFS is involved with the family and the child is taken by a non-custodial parent or caregiver. No other entity in the County has placed this specialized focus on abducted children.
Family and Children’s Index (FCI) – ICAN created the FCI as a result of a child death case that the CDRT reviewed where it was discovered that a family had received multiple contacts from numerous county and city agencies (the initial number of contacts cited was 52 prior contacts!) and none of the agencies who connected with this family knew that any other agency had also been in contact with this family. As a result, in 1992, ICAN secured legislation (AB 3491 Gotch) which added Section 18961.5 to the Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC). This section authorizes counties to establish a computerized database system to allow specified provider agencies to share certain identifying information regarding families at risk for child abuse or neglect. FCI is an extremely valuable system as it directly addresses concerns regarding information sharing by allowing for information to be shared through the use of a 2 person Multidisciplinary Team and also allows for this information to be shared electronically. No other system in the county allows for this kind of information sharing. FCI is automated, efficient and easy to use and is of great value to users of the system who can easily obtain much needed information for case investigation and case development. Current participants in FCI include the Department of Children and Family Services, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, District Attorney’s Office, Department of Health Services, Department of Public Health, Department of Mental Health, Probation Department, Department of Public Social Services, Department of Coroner and the Los Angeles Police Department.
Child Sexual Exploitation Committee (CSEC) – The ICAN Child Sexual Exploitation Committee focuses on Internet Crimes Against Children, Child Prostitution and Human Trafficking of Children through the coordination of local, state, and federal agencies and service providers. The goal is to improve the effectiveness of the prevention, identification, investigation, prosecution of and provision of services for victims of these crimes. ICAN began this work a number of years ago and the current activities taking place in Los Angeles Count to combat CSEC are the direct result of ICAN’s efforts to bring awareness to this horrific and complex problem.
Nexus Conference – ICAN is well-known for its annual Nexus Conference. This widely attended conference allows professionals from a number of disciplines to gather for a full day, hear from County and City Department heads, experts involved in child welfare related activities, celebrities and other champions for children, network with one another and have the chance to learn about cutting edge work in the child protection arena.
Childhood Grief and Traumatic Loss Conference – ICAN’s Grief and Loss Conference is unique in the county. Through our longstanding work in protecting children, we have learned about the devastating effects of children’s traumatic loss. Whether it is a child who is removed from home, the loss of a caregiver, the unexpected and senseless murder of a family member, everyone is touched by issues of grief and loss. This unique conference explores how we are all impacted by loss and how those who work as professionals in helping children can assist a child through the grief process that occurs after a loss.
Cyber Crime Prevention Symposia – Organized under the aegis of ICAN, law enforcement agencies including the United States Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, and the Los Angeles Police Department as well as the Los Angeles County Office of Education, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center, CSUN, the Anti-Defamation League, Peace over Violence, ICAN Associates, Fox Entertainment Group, the Walt Disney Company, and Warner Bros. Entertainment present a day-long seminar each year to more than 300 educators, parents, and middle and high school students. Since its inception in 2009, the Symposia continue to educate teachers, administrators, parents, and students on the importance of Internet-related security and safety. Speakers conduct discussions on topics that include child exploitation, cyber bullying, digital reputation, social media and Internet dangers, sextortion, and other concerns. Each year a special celebrity guest from a Disney program also makes an appearance to help reinforce the cyber safety message. Student teams from each of the schools that attend this one-day Symposium are also invited to participate in a Cyber Crime Challenge to develop a cyber safety program at their respective schools in order to educate the entire student body on the various risks associated with cyber crime. The contest aims to promote good cyber etiquette by challenging students to engage in creating the cyber safety programs. Each school entry is judged by a panel on its creativity, students’ implementation and impact of its program on its school’s student body.
Hospital Project – ICAN is currently uniquely focused on helping California Hospitals build a peer support system and tools that will promote better detection, evaluation, reporting and management of child abuse/neglect. Included in this Project is a Hospital Directory through which hospitals have identified professional staff as liaisons for topics related to child abuse and neglect. The ICAN hospital network has minimal cost for ties to the majority of pediatric services now separate from child protection services. Special programs include birth, burns and pediatric intensive care. Hospitals are joined in regions to share resources. A county standard for concern includes over 400 children a day, including 344 newborns and almost 100 children under age 3, receiving emergency department or inpatient care for injuries. More is available at: ican4kids.org. ICAN is working to add hospitals into the Family and Children’s Index as hospital staff are key players in identifying and treating child abuse/neglect.
Infant Safe Sleep Campaign – ICAN’s Child Death Review Team recognized that approximately 70 infants a year were dying as a result of co-sleeping and unsafe sleeping practices. Through a grant, ICAN engaged in a broad-scale public awareness campaign and has focused on educating new parents on the need to use safe sleeping practices. ICAN continues to disseminate large quantities of educational materials to groups identified as best reaching the target population for this campaign. For the last two years there has been a drop in the number of infant deaths from unsafe sleep practices – the tentative number for 2013 is 47 such deaths.
Data Report – this report, known as The State of Child Abuse in Los Angeles County, is a unique report within the county. Seventeen County or City agencies produce annual reports on their involvement with issues pertaining to child abuse and neglect. They track the number of cases with which they have been involved, provide demographic data on these cases, describe prevention programs in which they engage and provide longitudinal data on their cases and responses to situations related to abuse/neglect. These reports are reviewed and broken down into significant findings, including notable changes from prior years and increases or decreases in their child abuse related activities. The committee that compiles this report also makes recommendations based on findings and on efforts to improve the data recorded in their annual reports. No other county has a report that not only includes data from multiple agencies but also provides extensive longitudinal tracking of agency involvement with child abuse/neglect cases and activities.
Safely Surrendered and Abandoned Infants – We’ve all heard of newborns being abandoned in trash bins, public bathrooms, etc., this unfortunate fact seems to occur as a result of often panicked and distressed mothers who recently gave birth and have little or no support from family, friends or their community. Abandoning a newborn is not only illegal, but it puts newborns at grave risk of injury and/ or death. Since 2001, California has responded to the dilemma of baby abandonment by providing a life-saving alternative for distressed parents who are unwilling or unable to care for a newborn child, through the Safe Surrendered Baby Law (SSBL) program. This report highlights the effectiveness of this program in Los Angeles County. The following pages illustrate the success of this program evident by a downward trend in the number of abandoned deceased infants since the SSBL program came into effect.
Child Death Review – The Child Death Review Team report is based on data collected for child deaths within Los Angeles County. It includes data analysis, lessons learned and recommendations regarding child deaths. ICAN has collected this data since 1979 with the assistance of the Department of Coroner and the Department of Children and Family Services. A new report is released on an annual basis.