Our Response to Child Physical Abuse

ChicagoCAC Baby on Scale

Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center convenes the Multi-disciplinary Pediatric Education and Evaluation Consortium (MPEEC). This landmark partnership provides timely, comprehensive investigation, diagnosis and treatment of suspected physical abuse of children under age 3, ensuring the best outcome for children and families. Our MPEEC partners are:

  • John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County
  • Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
  • The University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital
  • Illinois Department of Children & Family Services
  • Chicago Police Department

Prevalence of Physical Abuse

In Illinois, children under age 3 experience the highest rates of abuse and neglect. In their 2014 fiscal year, Illinois Department of Children & Family Services indicated abuse or neglect in more than 6,300 cases of children under age 3. These children are most vulnerable to the long-term impacts of abuse, and most are too young to speak.

When initial signs of abuse are overlooked, repeat injury occurs in up to 80% of victims, with mortality rates as high as 50%.

How We Help

MPEEC responds to reports of serious injuries of children under age 3 who are either treated at one of our partner hospitals, or who are Chicago residents treated at any area hospital. These injuries include cuts, welts, bruises, burns, internal injuries, bone fractures and head trauma.

MPEEC team members collaborate to provide case coordination, forensic medical evaluation by board-certified child abuse pediatricians, child welfare investigation and criminal investigation. MPEEC also provides second opinions for child protection specialists investigating suspected abuse of children of any age.

When abuse is properly identified, health professionals, child protection specialists and others can take necessary actions to protect the child from future harm. Similarly, rapidly identifying injuries that are the result of non-abusive trauma minimizes the interruption to children and families.


Our MPEEC team conducts trainings for first responders including Chicago Police Department, Chicago Fire Department and Illinois Department of Children & Family Services. These trainings are not open to the public. Contact us for more information.

Our Founding

MPEEC was created in response to the death of 15-month-old Gabriella Elise Manzardo, who died from abusive head trauma. A prolonged 14-month investigation led to the indictment of her child care provider. 

Gabriella’s mother, Laurie Manzardo, was frustrated by the lack of medical expertise and interagency communication, both of which hindered the investigation. As a result, Laurie founded G.E.M. Child Protection Foundation.

G.E.M. collaborated with Dr. Jill Glick, Dr. Michele Lorand and Dr. Emalee Flaherty to form an interdisciplinary task force of child advocates to address deficiencies in the system. The task force recommended the development and implementation of a statewide system to ensure child abuse pediatricians provide medical evaluations when abuse is alleged. In Chicago, this coordinated response is called MPEEC.