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    Health of the City: Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health is a proud partner of the Lancaster County Children’s Alliance

    The Lancaster County Children’s Alliance (LCCA) is committed to being a driving force in the recovery and healing process for victims of child abuse in Lancaster County.

     

    The Alliance, which is an accredited Child Advocacy Center, works closely with children, including trafficking victims, and their families, to support their needs and provide them with comprehensive, coordinated, and compassionate services.

     

    After recognizing the community need in Lancaster County, a team of professionals came together to develop a center, opening LCCA’s doors in 2006. Through the years, LCCA has made innovative progress in its response to child abuse, meeting the ever-changing needs of children in the community.

     

    “Prior to our center’s existence, each team member responded to child abuse cases individually—each of them having a different role in the investigation and intervention process,” said Mary Halye, MSW, an LG Health employee and LCCA Manager. “Sometimes their efforts to do their jobs resulted in multiple interviews of the child, which could cause additional trauma to the one they were trying to help.”

     

    The child-focused, multidisciplinary team at LCCA is what makes it unique and effective, bringing resources and professional support to child victims and their non-offending family members all in one location. The team at LCCA includes child protection workers, law enforcement officers, medical providers, prosecutors, victim advocates, mental health providers, and advocacy staff.

     

    Each case is unique, and the LCCA team works closely together to provide the right services for each child, including forensic interviews, medical exams, trauma-focused mental health services, and caregiver groups and Family Advocates for non-offending family members. And every service provided by LCCA comes at no charge to the child or their caregivers.

     

    “Each and every team member comes together to make sure families get the proper level of care so that children can receive the supportive services they need,” Halye said.

     

    Since 2006, LCCA has served over 8,200 children, and that number has been steadily increasing, especially in the past three years (with 724 children served in 2020 and 836 in 2021).

     

    Halye said the pandemic added layers of complexity to cases, but because LCCA is critical to children’s health and well-being, the center has been able to remain open and safely see children in person.

     

    “For some children, the pandemic has been a stressor, and potentially a traumatic event, and we’ve taken additional steps to ensure children feel physically safe and are psychologically safe so they are able to focus on getting the help and services they need,” Halye added.

     

    To make this essential work happen, LCCA has many partners throughout the community—including Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, which provides operational support. Other community partners include Lancaster County Children and Youth Social Services Agency, the Child Abuse Prosecution Unit of the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office, and YWCA Sexual Assault Prevention and Counseling Center.

     

    Additionally, LCCA is a partner of Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams’ new Human Trafficking Task Force, which is a collaboration of organizations whose mission is to combat human trafficking in Lancaster.

     

    “Some of the children who come to us on the worst days find it hard to speak,” Halye said. “[LCCA] ensures a child is comfortable and their voice is heard. [Our staff] is very passionate about what they do.”

     

    More information on LCCA, including how to reach the staff for comprehensive services, can be found on its website. You can also make a gift, volunteer, and find information on hosting a fundraising event on the website.