BROKEN BOW—The Family Advocacy Network (FAN) has been welcomed to Broken Bow with a chamber of commerce ribbon cutting taking place on Tuesday afternoon. The Kearney-based operation opened a satellite office in Custer County to serve local children and families affected by abuse situations.
“The Family Advocacy Network is a nationally accredited child advocacy center and our home base is Kearney. And we have satellites in Broken Bow now and one in Hastings. We provide a response, a coordinated response, with law enforcement, Health and Human Services (HHS), prosecutors, and medical professionals to child abuse and neglect,” Executive Director Jamie Vetter said.
FAN Executive Director Jamie Vetter said seven Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) are located across Nebraska and began back in 2001. Most of the offices were located along Interstate 80 until a feasibility study showed many of the underserved “pockets” of Nebraska and prompted the opening of satellite offices, thanks in part to legislative funding. The Family Advocacy Network is one of the CACs and serves 14 central Nebraska counties.
FAN serves sexual assault populations—adolescent and adult—and provides forensic interviews, medical exams, hair and nail testing, advocacy for families and children going through the court process, case coordination, and referrals for follow-up services to children and adults dealing with abuse.
At the June 27 Board of Supervisors meeting, County Attorney Steve Bowers said having a Family Advocacy Network office in town will reduce the amount of driving, law enforcement assistance, and will save time for critical abuse situations in need of services. The county board offered their support and the county provided the building under a five-year lease agreement. FAN will be responsible for utilities and renovation costs.
“This should help out so much in getting the forensic interviews a lot quicker and not only eliminating some of the things that are the frustrations on the investigative side of it, so I really appreciate everybody’s help trying to get this done,” Bowers said.
Senator Matt Williams attended the ribbon cutting on Tuesday and appreciates the teamwork it took to open the satellite office.
“[Services provided] It happens because of dedicated people and a state that cares about it and provides some funding…this group working with 14 counties around this area and making a difference, I don’t know of anything more important than the protection of our kids,” Senator Williams said.
FAN will also work with Healing Hearts and Families on some cases as a service provider. The Custer County office is located at 2475 South E Street in Broken Bow, in the Health and Human Services building. Vetter said the staff hopes to dedicate at least one day a week in Broken Bow to assist local HHS and law enforcement.