Norton Children’s opens center dedicated to helping child abuse victims

The center will be staffed with doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, a social worker and other clinicians specifically trained in identifying, treating, and preventing abuse and neglect.

Kentucky continues to have a child abuse rate higher than the national average. Today, Norton Children’s, Home of the Innocents, state officials and the community opened the new Norton Children’s Center for Safe and Healthy Kids.

Located on the Home of the Innocents campus in Louisville, the center will serve thousands of patients from across the state. The center will be staffed with doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, a social worker and other clinicians specifically trained in identifying, treating, and preventing abuse and neglect.

“Our rates of child abuse and neglect continue to cause great concern, and we, as a community, need to play a vital role in protecting all children,” said Russell F. Cox, president and CEO, Norton Healthcare. “This center will help address this systemic issue and offer a new level of care for our most vulnerable citizens. I’m grateful for our team and community partners who’ve worked so hard to make this center a reality.”

In 2022, Norton Children’s announced $6 million from the Kentucky General Assembly. Secured by Senator Julie Raque Adams, the funds were earmarked for reducing the number of child deaths and injuries related to abuse. An additional $3 million was committed by the Norton Children’s Hospital Foundation, thanks to donations from local philanthropist Bill Ehrig and others in the community. Norton Healthcare added $3 million for a total $12 million vision to combat child abuse.

The funds are supporting Norton Children’s Pediatric Protection Specialists, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, in its efforts to prevent and identify child abuse and neglect across the state. About $2 million of those funds helped establish the Norton Children’s Center for Safe and Healthy Kids, where the team will reside.

“We need to do everything we can to protect Kentucky’s children,” said Senator Adams. “I’m proud to support the center and staff who make a difference and save lives. This center will impact countless families across the commonwealth for generations to come.”

“The Norton Children’s Hospital Foundation is committed stopping child abuse in our state,” said Lynnie Meyer, R.N., Ed.D., CFRE, senior vice president and chief development officer, Norton Healthcare. “Just imagine the impact our community can have when we come together to support our children and families.”

The center also will partner with Home of the Innocents on programming to offer expanded mental health, therapy services, parenting classes and prevention efforts to families and caregivers.

“Home of the Innocents has been proud to partner with Norton Children’s over the years and is grateful to continue this collaboration to support the children in our community,” said Paul Robinson, president and CEO of Home of the Innocents. “We are confident this partnership will have an immeasurable impact on survivors of child maltreatment and their families by expanding access to care and treatment.”

Norton Children’s Pediatric Protection Specialists is a full-service pediatric forensic medicine program, and it serves all 120 counties in Kentucky. It provides medical assessment for suspected victims of child maltreatment. The team assesses thousands of children per year, creates court-worthy documentation about findings, communicates with investigators, and testifies in family and criminal courts.

The program is led by Melissa L. Currie, M.D., child abuse pediatrician and director of Norton Children’s Pediatric Protection Specialists. Dr. Currie was the first certified child abuse pediatrician in Kentucky. She and her team teach medical professionals; community partners, including child protective services and police; and other groups about child abuse prevention, recognition, reporting and intervention.

“We need to continue to look at solutions for how to decrease the number of children who suffer from physical and sexual abuse and neglect in our state,” said Dr. Currie. “This center is a big step in the right direction. I’m excited to see our program grow and the impact it will have now and in the future.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Children’s Bureau “Child Maltreatment 2022” report — released this year — Kentucky’s rate of child abuse victims is 12.3 per 1,000 children, meaning about 12 out of every 1,000 children in the commonwealth experienced some type of child maltreatment. This is higher than the U.S. average of 7.7.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Find prevention tips and how to identify abuse at

In Kentucky, the number to call to report suspected child abuse is (877) KY-SAFE1 (597-2331). The National Child Abuse Hotline, (800) 4-A-CHILD (422-4453), offers professional crisis counselors who can provide intervention, information and referrals to emergency, social services and support resources. Calls are confidential. In Kentucky, everyone is mandated to report a reasonable suspicion that maltreatment has occurred.