Our forensic interview team interviews children on-site in a child friendly and safe environment, at the request of the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office, when child abuse is suspected or has been disclosed. This coordinated response reduces the number of times the child is interviewed, thus reducing stress for the child throughout the investigative process.
The team consists of trained professionals from the Hampden County District Attorney's Office; the Department of Children & Families; local, regional, and state law enforcement; and the Baystate Family Advocacy Center, working together to coordinate services to children and their families.
Trained professionals from the BFAC, law enforcement, the Department of Children and Families, and the county district attorney’s office interview children on-site in a friendly, safe setting. One interview means less trauma for the child.
Children receive a comprehensive evaluation by a team of pediatric and mental health providers with expertise in caring for children when sexual and/or physical abuse is suspected. The team assesses the wellness of the child, evaluates any evidence of abuse, identifies the medical and mental health needs of the child, and guides the child and family towards healing.
We provide individual, family, and group evidence-based, trauma and grief-focused therapeutic services to children, non-offending caretakers, and their families. Treatment is tailored to empower individuals, promote resiliency and reduce symptoms of trauma. Our team helps victims of trauma navigate the complex systems that can be a barrier to obtaining services.
Additionally, our Homicide Bereavement Program provides trauma and grief focused mental health services to co-victims of homicide and vehicular homicide in western Massachusetts. Services include individual and group therapy, crisis counseling, court and criminal justice support and advocacy, and activities that support empowerment and decrease isolation. Services are offered for free and are supported by the Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance. Services are available for child, adolescent, and adult co- victims, and materials are provided in both English or Spanish.
Finally, our Suicide Bereavement Program provides trauma and grief focused mental health services to children ages 3-17 who have lost a loved one to suicide. Services include culturally sensitive needs assessment, individual and group trauma and grief focused therapy, crisis counseling, peer support, information and referrals, as well as activities for transforming pain into meaning-making and healing. Services are offered for free and are supported by the New York Life Foundation. Services are available for children and adolescents and materials are provided in both English or Spanish.
We used evidence-based therapies, including:
- Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Attachment, self-regulation, and competency
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
A team including the evaluation team coordinator and case workers, and the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office victim witness advocate provides additional supports to the families of children who are being interviewed or medically examined for possible child abuse. Our team offers educational and supportive resources to the families, answers questions, and provides guidance throughout the process.
We follow families for up to six months after the interview or exam to provide continued service and support.
Our team members provide education and training to area schools, businesses, community organizations, and medical staff regarding childhood trauma, trauma informed practices, sexual abuse prevention, toxic stress, traumatic grief, vicarious trauma, and issues related to violence.
We also provide training in Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for therapists and agencies looking to build their expertise in trauma-informed, evidence-based treatment.
For training requests, please call 413-794-9816.
Funding sources include:
- Baystate Health
- National Children’s Alliance (NCA)
- Victims of Crime Act (VOCA)
- Grant provided by the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA)
- Massachusetts Children’s Alliance (MACA)
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (SAMHSA)
- New York Life Foundation
Insurance is accepted, and some services are offered free of charge. Every child who needs family advocacy services is seen regardless of ability to pay.
This project is supported by the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance through a Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA) grant from the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.
Our children’s Suicide Bereavement Program supports children and adolescents ages 3 to 17 in need of mental health support after losing a loved one to suicide. It includes a program that supports schools experiencing the loss of a student from suicide.
We offer services to survivors at various stages of the grieving process; services tailored to meet the survivor’s needs whether in the immediate aftermath or years later.
This program was made possible by a $100,000 donation by the New York Life Foundation. It is in-line with the homicide bereavement program.