Joining Forces for Children

Joining Forces for Children is a collaborative effort to address the needs of children affected by substance use through training and education, systems and policy changes, and direct support for children and families.

Children are often the first impacted and the last to get help when a family member experiences addiction. No child is too young to escape the impact of a loved one’s substance use and it is never too early or too late to offer specialized support.


Free Services & Support (Servicios y apoyo gratuitos)

The Joining Forces for Children Family Advocate provides free individualized support to children impacted by addiction. Knowing that children impacted by addiction are more likely to develop their own addiction disorder at some point in their life, the Family Advocate provides education and builds skills to decrease the likelihood that a young person will develop an addiction disorder. This individualized support also includes other families members to help foster recovery from the family illness of addiction.

El Defensor de la Familia de Unamos Fuerzas por los Niños brinda apoyo individualizado gratuito a los niños afectados por la adicción. Debido a que sabemos que los niños afectados por la adicción tienen más probabilidad de desarrollar su propio trastorno de adicción en algún momento de sus vidas, el Defensor de la Familia proporciona educación y desarrolla habilidades para disminuir la probabilidad de que una persona joven desarrolle un trastorno de adicción. Este apoyo individualizado también incluye a otros miembros de la familia para así ayudar a fomentar la recuperación de la enfermedad familiar de adicción.

What does a family advocate do? Learn how a family advocate helps.


“Melanie is approachable and talks about things in a comfortable way.”

“What I can say is I think Melanie is amazing. Every time we leave from seeing her it’s been productive. She’s been extremely helpful.”

“I just wanted to say that Melanie is the only person out of all the different organizations that I am working with that has consistently answered her phone when I called.”

“So happy to have this support in the community.”

Handle With Care

What is it?

Handle with Care is a trauma-sensitive approach that allows law enforcement to notify school personnel when they encounter a child at a scene. In Lancaster County, notifications will be received through a Safe2Say plug-in only accessible by law enforcement. No details about the event will be shared with school personnel. It is important to note that not all police contact is the result of violence, but may result in a traumatic response by the student.
To learn more about Handle with Care visit:

Why Handle with Care?

The goal of Handle with Care is to better help children exposed to trauma in the community and minimize its impact so that children can succeed at school. Witnessing or experiencing an event that causes a lot of stress negatively impacts a child’s readiness to learn. If the stress is not managed and continues, students may continue to have trouble paying attention in class, be impulsive, be cranky, or have trouble sleeping – all things which make participating in school harder.

When students are “handled with care” – they’re offered understanding and support rather than discipline and punishment. This supportive approach allows students the time they need to manage the stress without adding more. When stress is managed, students are more easily able to actively participate in the learning process.

Handle With Care Implementation Status

Support Groups for Loved Ones

Local and National Groups (Virtual and In-person Options Available)

  • ACoA – (Adult Children of Alcoholics) Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA)/Dysfunctional Families is a Twelve Step, Twelve Tradition program of men and women who grew up in dysfunctional homes. Find a Meeting
  • Al-Anon/Alateen – for loved ones of people who struggle with their alcohol use: Find an Al-Anon/Alateen Meeting
  • Cobys Family Services: Learn More
  • Donegal Substance Abuse Alliance – A variety of family support classes, groups, and sober social activities: Learn More
  • Families Anonymous – A 12 step fellowship for the family and friends of those individuals with drug, alcohol or related behavioral issues. We are here to help!: Learn More
  • Gam-Anon – For those concerned with a loved one’s gambling: Find a Meeting
  • Nar-Anon – for those who know or have known a feeling of desperation concerning the addiction problem of someone very near to them: Find a Nar-Anon Meeting
  • For Additional Family Support Groups Visit Compass Mark’s Get Help page

Services for Children and Families

Families With Children 0 - 5 Years Old

School-Aged Children – Grades K-12

Our Partners

Tap / Click on the logos above to learn more

Stakeholder Updates