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.
The Family Advocacy Network (FAN) was developed as a regional approach to addressing child and adult abuse in West-Central Nebraska. The nonprofit serves 14 rural counties from their headquarters in Kearney and satellite offices in Hastings and Broken Bow.
FAN's victim-focused approach provides a coordinated response involving community and health professionals for children and adult abuse cases. FAN is part of a joint investigation team made up of local law enforcement, healthcare professionals, county prosecutors, and the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services.
The program also partners with school districts within the counties they serve, area physicians who provide referrals, and Nebraska Alliance of Child Advocacy Centers to create a network of professionals that can provide integrated care for victims of abuse.
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 provides the following services for victims of physical or sexual abuse, whether children, adults, and senior citizens:
- Forensic interviews
- Forensic medical examinations
- SANE Examinations
- Testing for drug-exposed children
- Hair follicle testing
- Coordinated care
The FAN team includes a Spanish and PRN forensic interview specialists and contracts with medical providers, including pediatricians and SANE nurses.
FAN also provides training for those working with victims of abuse. The program educates the public about this topic and promotes their services by:
- Putting on training for multidisciplinary teams and community members
- Raising community awareness about child abuse
- Educating providers about child abuse
- Preventing re-victimization of clients
The following results are from 2018:
- 639 alleged abuse offenders were identified, the majority were parents of the victim.
- 555 children were served by FAN, the majority ages 7-12.
- 507 referrals were made to counseling services.
- 507 forensic interviews were performed on children and 22 were performed on adults.
- 175 cases were filed for prosecution.
- 147 team members were trained.
- 58 hair/nail tests completed as part of the forensic medical exams.
- 41 forensic medical exams were performed on children, 10 on adults.
- 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 mental health professionals that help victims of abuse are miles away from rural communities. FAN uses telemedicine to connect victims of abuse with mental health professionals 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. 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
Date updated or reviewed
September 13, 2019
Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub, 2019. Family Advocacy Network [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at: https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/project-examples/535 [Accessed 20 April 2021]
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.