News / Blog

Partner Spotlight: Dr. Karen Rush, Children’s Center

By Natalie Hornstein, CCCC Community Connections Specialist |

Meet Dr. Karen Rush, the new Executive Director of the Children’s Center of Clackamas County!

Dr. Rush may be new to the Children’s Center, but she has long served children and families in the Clackamas County community. Previously, she was the Director of Early Learning for the North Clackamas School District. Through that work she was also a founding member and leader of the Prenatal–3 Years Interagency Collaborative – a group that aims to improve the quality of early learning programs throughout the county by providing education, screening events, professional development, and networking opportunities to center-based and in-home providers.

Currently, Dr. Rush is leading critical work at the Children’s Center, a non-profit that provides medical examinations and forensic interviews to support Clackamas County children and families. Their services support children who are or have experienced suspected physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect, including drug endangerment and witness to violence. All of the providers who assess children are highly trained specialists who work in a way that is always trauma informed and developmentally appropriate.

“We assess around 400 children a year at the center,” said Dr. Rush. “About 50% of the children are referred for concerns of sexual abuse. We get referrals from medical providers, DHS, law enforcement, teachers, parents, concerned community members – the children are referred for an assessment when there is a concern of abuse or neglect.”

Dr. Rush has two important goals to focus this work. The first is to strengthen knowledge and skills in the community to prevent and reduce abuse. Her staff provides trainings with the Darkness to Light curriculum – an evidence-based model that educates about the prevention of child sexual abuse.

Her second goal is to foster community networks and establish partnerships – like their partnership with Clackamas County Children’s Commission. Dr. Rush is a member of the Early Learning Hub advisory committee, and is always working to improve the early learning education system in our community.  

Through these goals, Dr. Rush seeks to build true systemic change. She strives to build systems that heal and not harm.

“It’s about elevating community conversation around child maltreatment so that children can feel safe,” said Dr. Rush. “They need to feel like there are safe adults they can talk to.”

We are grateful to have people like Dr. Rush serving the children and families in Clackamas County. Thank you for your service, and for serving, connecting, and growing with Clackamas County Children’s Commission.

To connect with the Children’s Center, call 503-655-7725 or click the links below: