MEDIA— Four Delaware County victims’ service organizations recently entered into a new, collaborative agreement to facilitate their missions of promoting justice and healing for local residents.
Family Support Line, Delaware County Women Against Rape, Domestic Abuse Project of Delaware County and Court-Appointed Special Advocates have recently made a public commitment to provide seamless assistance to physical and sexual assault victims in Delaware County. Their mission is to continue with a collaborative effort to support all victims’ needs while preventing duplicate services. Through their alliance, they commit to providing streamlined services to victims regardless of the organization.
“As victim service organizations dedicated to providing services to victims and survivors in Delco, it was important for all four of us to start working together to ensure that clients receive seamless support throughout the process of healing,” explained Sarah Gibbons, executive director of Family Support Line. “Our clients are already going through traumatic situations and navigating through confusing criminal justice and child welfare systems, and it is important for us to do the heavy lifting to ensure that no matter where they land in Delaware County, they will get all of the services they deserve and need to begin the path of healing.”
All four organizations are under new leadership, with the leaders trying to make a conscious effort to work together, creating robust service delivery options for Delaware County youth, adults, and families to promote healing. FSL and DCWAR signed a linkage agreement as an example of the organizations streamlining services effectively. Delaware County Children’s Advocacy Center, a program of FSL, will screen all families who come in for a forensic interview regarding their current involvement with DCWAR. This initial screening creates a funnel of communication dictating who should service the victim and how.
For instance, if a client receives existing services from DCWAR, they are advised to be accompanied to their interview at FSL by a DCWAR advocate. In this scenario, the DCWAR advocate is responsible for meeting with and providing support for the victim and their parent/caregiver.
“DAP is honored to commit to a collective collaboration with key victim-serving agencies in Delaware County,” commented Julie Avalos, executive director of Domestic Abuse Project of Delaware County. “We believe this will ensure organizational success for all four of us, and more importantly, ensure victims of Delaware County are receiving the highest quality services.”
“For years, our working relationships with the other victim service providers have been strong,” added Candice Linehan, assistant executive director of Delaware County Women Against Rape. “We chose to formalize these partnerships and we wanted our community members to know that we are committed to providing victims of crime the quality, unduplicated services they deserve.”
Funding is provided to all the organizations through the Federal Victims of Crime Act to support those who have experienced crime victimization. VOCA funds individual counseling, emergency shelter and safe housing, notification of criminal justice events, crisis intervention, hotlines and crisis lines counseling, and emergency justice related assistance.
According to representatives of these agencies, FSL, DCWAR, DAP, and CASA recognize the importance of being responsible stewards of spending Federal dollars. The organizations maintain the mission of helping and healing the shared clients they serve by utilizing each other’s expertise when appropriate.
Family Support Line Family Support Line works to advance the prevention and treatment of child sexual abuse. Its services include comprehensive prevention programs, specialized treatment, professional training, and advocacy. The nonprofit organization, located in Media, has been serving children, tweens, and teens in Delaware County for over 30 years, protecting their overall health and well-being. For more information on Family Support line, visit www.familysupportline.org.
The Domestic Abuse Project of Delaware County works to prevent domestic violence in Delaware County. DAP supports victims through a 24/7 hotline, emergency safe shelter, counseling, and legal advocacy. Since 1976, DAP has been the sole provider of services to domestic violence victims in all 49 municipalities of Delaware County. For more information on Delaware County Domestic Abuse Project, visit www.dapdc.org.
Delaware County Women Against Rape is a private nonprofit agency who provides services to victims of rape, other sexual assault, and other crimes. Since 1974, DCWAR has provided education and resources to children, families, and professional personnel to increase community awareness of the impact on crimes and victims and develop prevention strategies. For more information on Delaware County Women Against Rape, visit www.delcowar.org.
CASA Youth Advocates Inc., works to ensure that each child in Delaware and Chester counties’ child welfare systems lives well, achieves academic excellence, and experiences the joys of childhood by providing them with trained volunteer advocates who speak for their best interests with support and guidance from CASA’s professional staff of social workers and attorneys. CASA has been serving Delaware County’s children since 1992 and expanded its services to Chester County’s children in 2015. For more information on Delaware County Court Appointed Special Advocates, visit delcocasa.org.
“As victim-serving organizations, it is critical that we create a seamless safety net for all individuals, children, and families who access our services,” stated Leigh Anne McKelvey, executive director of CASA Delaware and Chester Counties. “Whether services are being provided by Women Against Rape, Family Support Line, Domestic Abuse Project, or CASA Youth Advocates, we strive to stand as one comprehensive advocacy response team for Delaware County. We aim to move beyond collaboration to true integration to ensure that no individuals who have experienced assault, abuse, or victimization become re-victimized by slipping through the cracks of a disjointed system of services.”