Family Support Line: Helping victims of child sexual abuse find hope and healing

Family Support Line, a nonprofit based in Media, has a 30-year history of providing a wide range of direct services to victims of child sexual abuse. In 2015, with the opening of the Delaware County Children’s Advocacy Center (DCCAC), we expanded our services to child victims of crime. The DCCAC is fully accredited by the National Children’s Alliance. The dedicated professionals who work for Family Support Line and the Delaware County CAC are dedicated to a simple mission: helping children and families find hope and healing after the trauma of sexual abuse.

Delaware County Children’s Advocacy Center

The Delaware County Children’s Advocacy Center provides a coordinated response to reports of child abuse through a Memorandum of Agreement with Delaware County law enforcement agencies, Children and Youth Services and the District Attorney’s Office. These agencies refer alleged victims and their non-offending caregivers to the DCCAC, where the identified victim receives a forensic interview conducted by specially trained professionals. These interviews are neutral, fact-finding and legally defensible. Investigative personnel gather at the DCCAC for the forensic interview and observe from another room as the child and interviewer are recorded. The recording provides a record of the child’s statement and mitigates the need for multiple interviews. In 2017, 454 children were served at the DCCAC.

Coordinating the Multi-Disciplinary Team, which includes; Children and Youth Services, Law Enforcement, the District Attorney’s Office, medical professionals, the Office of Behavioral Health and the Department of Juvenile Justice, is a central function of the DCCAC and provides an opportunity for agencies to work collaboratively and support one another through the investigative process.

The DCCAC’s Family Advocates offer emotional support to victims and their non-offending caregivers. These advocacy services include coordination of medical exams, referral for trauma-focused therapy, court accompaniment and case tracking. Our Family Advocates support the child and family through the interview process and assure that all understand the next steps. For those cases proceeding to court, the Family Advocates assist families in understanding the proceedings and offer emotional support throughout the often-difficult process.

Prevention Education Programs

In addition to the trauma-focused therapy offered at FSL, we engage in public awareness by providing prevention education programs to professionals, community members, parents and children. Our staff goes into local schools and talks to children about their bodies, empowering them to say, “No” and to tell a trusted adult when someone breaks touching rules. Last school year, nearly 7,200 children were educated.

Every day, the professionals at Family Support Line and DCCAC see the power of letting go of the shame and secrecy that accompanies child sexual abuse. We leave you with an illustration from one of the children we have served.

After disclosing ongoing sexual abuse the child took a deep breath, exhaled, smiled and said, “I’m gonna celebrate by having cake and ice cream!”

“What are you celebrating?” the Forensic Interviewer asked.

“I’m celebrating getting this off my chest! Keeping this secret has made my stomach hurt everyday”.

As a nonprofit, Family Support Line relies on the generous contributions of professionals in the communities it serves. This includes financial support, attending events and offering their time and expertise on the organization’s board and committees. For more information or to get involved, please contact Molly Hampson at molly@familysupportline.org or 610-268-9145 x.18.

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