Army Family Advocacy Program Partners with National Children’s Alliance to Respond to Instances of Child Abuse

By Chet Curtis, Directorate of Prevention, Resilience and ReadinessFebruary 27, 2024

The Army Family Advocacy Program has formalized a partnership with the National Children’s Alliance. On Jan. 2 the two organizations signed a memorandum of understanding that solidifies a collaborative effort to ensure that a coordinated community response is provided to children and Families who require support due to child abuse, neglect or problematic sexual behavior.

“This partnership authorizes installation FAP offices and accredited children’s advocacy centers (CACs) to coordinate services and share information in accordance with federal, state and local laws,” says Tanya Juarez, HQDA Family Advocacy Program manager. “This agreement provides guidance for installation FAP offices and accredited CACs to partner and use collective programs, services and materials in coordination with United States Army Criminal Investigation Division and other CAC multidisciplinary team partners to assist children and Families impacted by child abuse and neglect.”

FAP, a congressionally mandated DOD program, was established in 1979 in response to state and federal awareness of and response to child abuse. FAP provides a wide array of evidence-informed prevention education programs to strengthen Families and enhance resilience by supporting healthy life skills and safe spousal and intimate relationships, and by nurturing parenting skills.

FAP provides 24/7 assistance via domestic abuse victim advocates, who work with survivors to get them emergency services and resources. These advocates also assist survivors by helping them access medical, legal and law enforcement services; transition assistance; and other community resources, on and off Army bases. FAP offers evidencebased clinical assessments and treatment.

The NCA formed in 1988, is a professional membership organization dedicated to eradicating abuse. It offers more than 900 CACs, making it the largest U.S. network of care centers for child abuse victims.

“As local community-based programs, CACs are designed to meet the unique needs of the communities they serve, and, as such, no two CACs look or operate the same,” Juarez says. “However, they are founded on a shared belief that child abuse is a multifaceted community problem, and no single agency, individual or discipline has the necessary knowledge, skills or resources to serve the needs of all children and their families.”

The CACs’ coordinated and comprehensive response is also guided by a shared philosophy that the combined expertise of professionals across disciplines results in a more complete understanding of case issues and more effectively provides help, support and protection to children and families as they pursue healing and justice.

Juarez notes that this memorandum of understanding eliminates the need for individual MOUs at the local level, thus reducing the administrative burden for accredited CACs and Department of the Army installation FAP offices.

Although some 900 CACs coordinate the critical multidisciplinary services that child abuse victims need to heal, many children from military Families experience barriers to receiving those services. Even so, successful partnerships between CACs and military installation leaders have led to improved coordination and service for Families.

Improved coordination between CACs and FAP offices—coordination that includes cross-reporting of abuse allegations, collaborative investigations and a unified response to connect victims and Families with critical services offered by both the military and community agencies—can overcome many of the barriers to helping children obtain healing and justice.

“Together, the nation’s military leadership and CACs, our national child abuse response system, can ensure that military children are not only receiving the crucial services proven to work for all children but also are receiving those services that meet their particular needs,” Juarez says.