From Victim Advocacy to Family Advocacy

Anna Potter Associate Executive Director

Anna Potter
Associate Executive Director

Bivona shifts language to reflect comprehensive service model

Article Written By: Anna Potter, Associate Executive Director

Since opening our doors in 2004, our multidisciplinary team (MDT) has made significant changes to better help children heal. While all areas of service are immensely important in the healing process, child advocacy is an especially important component to the multidisciplinary Team. Advocates represent the only discipline that stays with children and their non-offending family members throughout their experience with evaluation, prosecution, and treatment, in some cases for years. The process from disclosure to conviction can often be overwhelming and frustrating for children and families and it is the job of our advocates to explain the process to them, keep them on the path to healing, and be there for them every step of the way. 

Over the last few months, Bivona has made significant changes to our advocacy services. Keeping in line with national standards from leaders like the National Children’s Alliance, as well as emphasizing our commitment to providing comprehensive services to all children seen at Bivona, we have changed the title from Victim Advocate to Family Advocate. The title “Family Advocate” more clearly describes the role of the individuals who are doing this comprehensive work. When child abuse happens, it does not happen in a vacuum; it impacts the entire family, with complex effects for years to come. 

“We know that the trauma of abuse has an effect on all members of the family,” says Sara White-Smith, Family Advocacy Coordinator at Bivona. “The change in title speaks more to what we actually do as we try to encompass the family as a whole in our work to help ensure that children and their families have what they need throughout their path to healing.”

Along with the change in title, we doubled the number of Family Advocates in our organization - a change that meets the need as caseloads and service offerings have increased. The Family Advocate role is of vital importance to the recovery of children and their families, and we expect that a more robust staffing structure will better meet the increased need. In addition, our MDT continuously evolves in order to meet new and vital standards put forth by our accrediting body, the National Children’s Alliance. 

We are excited for this change and look forward to furthering our mission within the community.