Family Advocacy Network
- Need: A service to address the high number of child abuse cases reported in Nebraska in the late 1990s.
- Intervention: The Family Advocacy Network (FAN) was developed to assist in the investigations of child abuse cases. FAN provides forensic interviews, forensic medical examinations, hair follicle testing, case coordination, advocacy, and education to help prevent revictimization.
- Results: FAN helped over 600 children and 23 adults in 2016, as well as educated hundreds of healthcare and community professionals.
Data from Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services show that in an average month in 1997, 3,500 Nebraska children (nearly 8 in 1,000) were in out-of-home care. About 9 in 1,000 children 18 and younger were victims in substantiated cases of child abuse or neglect in 1997. In 1996, abuse agencies received 73,851 crisis calls.
The Family Advocacy Network (FAN) was developed to combat child abuse. The program serves rural communities in 14 west-central Nebraskan counties as a nationally accredited Child Advocacy Center (CAC) and an accredited member of the National Children's Alliance.
FAN’s victim-focused approach provides a coordinated response to abuse cases for children and adults. It is part of a join-investigation team made up of local law enforcement, healthcare professionals, county prosecutors, and the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services. FAN partners with school districts within the counties they serve, area physicians who provide referrals, and Nebraska Alliance of Child Advocacy Centers.
This program originally received support from a 2000-2003 Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Rural Health Care Services Outreach grant. FAN is now sustained by several local, state, and national funds.
FAN’s role is to provide forensic interviews, medical examinations, and referral sources for:
- Physical and sexual abuse in children
- Neglected or abused vulnerable adults, including elder abuse
- Sexual assault cases
In these cases, FAN provides:
- Forensic interviews
- Medical exams
- Training and professional education
- Hair follicle testing
- Coordinated care
- Advocacy services
In addition, the program educates the public about this topic and promotes their services by:
- Raising community awareness about child abuse
- Educating providers about child abuse
- Preventing re-victimization of clients
- Over 600 unduplicated children were served by FAN in 2016
- 23 adults received FAN services in 2016
- FAN held multiple conferences on violence prevention for area law enforcement personnel, health and human service providers, and school staff
- General trainings were held for rural counties on child sexual abuse prevention and awareness
- Scholarships were awarded to dozens of professionals to attend training opportunities
Many organizations and appropriately-trained mental health professionals that help victims of abuse are miles away from rural communities. FAN used telemedicine technology to overcome this obstacle to connect victims of abuse with the help they need in a timely manner. This technology allows FAN professionals to interview victims from a distance, eliminating the need to travel. Telemedicine has also been used to link rural partners with metropolitan contacts for support and educational training.
FAN is unique in that other organizations previously involved in preventing child abuse in Nebraska rarely collaborated to meet the needs of victims. By engaging a diverse array of area organizations to share ideas, expertise, and resources, FAN has provided comprehensive care and gained acceptance within its communities.
FAN uses the following courses to train audiences regarding child abuse and sexual assault:
Abuse and violence
Children and youth
Criminal justice system
May 14, 2009
July 24, 2017
Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.