Baystate Health - Baystate Family Advocacy Center
The Baystate Family Advocacy Center (BFAC) has been operational since 1997. Under hospital and medical leadership, law enforcement, child protection, and prosecutorial disciplines formed an alliance, called the Child Abuse Prevention Alliance of Hampden County and endorsed the children’s advocacy center model. Inter-agency practice guidelines were created that allowed the FAC to become an accredited Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) through the National Children’s Alliance. A CAC is a child-friendly facility in which law enforcement, child protection, prosecution, mental health, medical and victim advocacy professionals work together to investigate abuse, help children heal from abuse, and hold offenders accountable. The BFAC has been offering medical services, forensic interviews, coordinated team investigation, and therapy for impacted children and their families ever since. In 1998, the FAC began receiving grant funds from the Victims of Crime Act through the Massachusetts Office for Victim’s Assistance. These programs help the FAC to offer therapy for children and families who experience child witness to domestic violence, community violence, and child sexual and physical abuse, homicide and vehicular homicide.
In 2006, the FAC worked to become a regional leader in evidence-based psychotherapies for traumatized children and their families. The FAC received a National Children’s Traumatic Stress Network grant to disseminate these evidence-based practices with the local therapy community and is recognized nationally for its leadership in trauma-informed, evidence-based therapy. In addition, a nationally growing recognition of the importance of commercial sexual exploitation of children has developed in the past few years. Leaders at the FAC have worked diligently with partners at the Department of Children and Families, Homeland Security, and the FBI to develop a growing model program in the community that will serve exploited children and protect children at risk.
In 2015, 356 forensic interviews were conducted at the FAC, 301 medical evaluations were completed, and 113 new children and families were seen for therapy services in addition to the 75 currently receiving treatment.
The problems the FAC seeks to impact are complex, multi-generational social issues that are served across multiple agencies, each of which are themselves affected by economic and political trends. Identifying, treating, and preventing childhood trauma is a community effort. The formal alliances of the FAC extend throughout law enforcement, the Department of Children and Families, and the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office. The program continues to grow collaborations as it expands services.
Future goals include expanding services for victims of commercial sexual exploitation; increasing community education on trauma informed care; continuing to grow victim-focused community collaborations; and developing community resiliency and child abuse prevention.
Contact: Stephen Boos, M.D.
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