Sparrow, Small Talk center fight against child abuse

Published: May 2, 2016

When it comes to Small Talk, Sparrow has a strong voice.

April was National Child Abuse Prevention Month but the battle against the abuse of children continues 24/7 year-round. Sparrow Hospital has been a key supporter of Lansing’s Small Talk Children’s Assessment Center since it was just an idea.

“Sparrow has been with Small Talk from the very beginning, and it continues to be a very important part of what we do,” says the center’s director, Alex Brace.

Small Talk, which provides assessment and counseling to victims of child abuse, opened in 2012. Sparrow Caregivers were instrumental in the creation of Small Talk, and continue to support the center in its fight against child abuse.

Small Talk now occupies its own offices at 3400 Pine Tree Road in Lansing, but it was born in a room provided at Sparrow Hospital at the St. Lawrence Campus.

Elizabeth Reust is the Forensic Pathology Supervisor at Sparrow and a member of the Small Talk Board of Directors. In the final 15 years of a 25-year career with the Lansing Police Department, Reust was a detective specializing in investigating crimes against children.

The bond between Sparrow and Small Talk runs deep, says Reust, who, in her years with Lansing Police, worked with various community agencies on developing the framework for Small Talk.

“Sparrow was wonderful to us in the development of the concept,” Reust says. “Dr. (Stephen) Guertin was our Sparrow connection. He arranged the space for us at the St. Lawrence Campus.”

Dr. Guertin, Director of the Sparrow Children’s Center and national expert on child abuse, remains a strong supporter of Small Talk.

Having a physical home allowed Small Talk to apply for federal grants. It also meant children were no longer subjected to interviews in the Lansing Police Department’s intimidating interrogation room.

A key component of Small Talk’s investigative effort, Sparrow created the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners Program, directed by Caregiver Matthew Kasper. The team collects evidence in acute cases of child abuse.

For more information on Small Talk, go to

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