For nine years the mental health professionals at the Child Study Center have engaged in an unusual collaboration with New Haven’s police department. Psychologists and psychiatrists rode in squad cars to learn how police worked. Police officers came to the medical school for training in child development. Since then, center staff have been on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help children who witness or are victims of violence. “It is a real triumph of collaboration,” says Mayor John DeStefano Jr.

Since the program started, it has intervened in the lives of more than 3,000 children and families. The U.S. Department of Justice has supported the collaboration project for the past six years, and this year chose to apply the model around the country. In addition, the department created the National Center for Children Exposed to Violence (NCCEV), based at the Child Study Center. Deputy Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. came to Yale in May for the dedication of the national center.

Over the next five years, Holder said, the NCCEV will provide $7 million to similar partnerships in nine communities around the country. “The Child Development-Community Policing Program will remain at the heart of the national center,” Holder told local police, government officials, pediatricians and faculty in Harkness Auditorium. The program, Holder said, is one of the first in the nation to recognize that such a partnership is a key element of successful treatment. The Child Development-Community Policing Program and the NCCEV are led by Steven Marans, Ph.D., Harris Associate Clinical Professor of Child Psychoanalysis in the Child Study Center.

The national center’s three objectives are to find ways to prevent exposure to violence, to intervene early and effectively in cases of violence and to ensure that perpetrators of violence against children are brought to justice.