The Health Federation of Greater Philadelphia
Programming from the Institute for Safe Families now resides at the Health Federation of Philadelphia.
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Our Programs

Our Programs

For over two decades, ISF has developed, piloted, and disseminated successful programs that address child abuse and family violence. ISF is a leader in the Philadelphia community and across the country in the area of prevention of interpersonal violence and its consequences for children. ISF has an established and highly respected record for initiating and nourishing collaborations, providing high quality trainings, and creating research-based programs and clinical materials. The majority of ISF programs serve families in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties, most of whom are at risk and are underserved and economically disadvantaged. ISF's leadership has been recognized through numerous awards, including the GlaxoSmithKline Community Impact Award, the Health Partners Making A Difference Award, and the Children's Crusader Award from the Philadelphia Department of Human Services.

ISF has four program areas:

Program Area One: Pediatric Initiatives

ISF’s pediatric initiatives (CAMP, Pediatric Champions, Family Safe Zone and Partnering with Parents) address the effects of toxic stress and adverse childhood experiences on families, and include on-site support, customized training for health care staff, educational materials for parents and providers, and positive parenting strategies.

  • The Children's and Moms' Project (CAMP) is a prevention initiative that works with the two Philadelphia children’s hospitals, as well as other pediatric settings, and partners with domestic violence agencies to help pediatric sites develop services to protect children from family violence, abuse, and other adverse experiences. Through CAMP, families are screened for domestic violence; services are provided by a domestic violence program to prevent further violence; and mothers and children are helped to recover from violence. 

  • The Pediatric Champions work is the first step toward CAMP programs.  ISF develops pediatric teams who, with ISF mentoring, coaching, and training, become “Pediatric Champions” and establish CAMP or Family Safe Zone programs in their pediatric settings.

  • Family Safe Zone, located at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, is designed to assess for, intervene in, and prevent child abuse using a three-prong approach:  

  1. Family Safe Zone trains pediatric health care providers to be aware of the effects of toxic stress on the developing brain and to be able to screen for child abuse, corporal punishment, harsh parenting practices, and domestic violence. 

  2. Pediatric providers and hospital staff receive training in One Kind Word, a nationally recognized training to: increase staff awareness of unsafe situations; offer staff strategies to defuse a parent-child conflict or assist when a child is unsafe; empower staff to step in helpfully by using positive words and actions; and discourage confrontational language and behavior.  

  3. A Parenting Specialist is available on site in the pediatric clinics to give parents of young children information about the effects of violence, training on positive parenting strategies, and brief behavioral health services as needed.       

  • ISF’s Partnering with Parents is a three-year collaboration among ISF, nurse-managed health centers and a parenting education provider.  It focuses on preventing child abuse by educating and supporting teen and young adult parents in their new roles during the critical periods of pregnancy and early parenthood.  Partnering with Parents is also a toolkit and training curriculum developed by ISF, which presents research and evidence regarding the negative effects of corporal punishment and encourages providers to screen for discipline practices and provide anticipatory guidance in positive discipline.

Program Area Two: Training and Consultation with The Philadelphia Department of Public Health

ISF has worked for 17 years with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) to create family violence prevention and intervention models to support the many thousands of people they serve.   ISF’s work focuses on reducing the negative impact of intimate partner violence on each member of the family (women, men, and children) involved with PDPH Ambulatory Health Services – staff and patients – through a coordinated community response, including a variety of prevention efforts throughout the community.  ISF provides training, technical assistance, and case consultation to 350 staff from the eight PDPH health centers to support their efforts on issues related to IPV prevention and intervention, particularly as these affect children.  In addition, ISF staff and the newly identified Pediatric Champions continue to advance the PDPH Pediatric Champions Projectwith the goal to promote pediatric responses and initiatives in the PDPH health centers to address IPV, alternatives to physical discipline, and the effects of trauma on early brain development among their patient families and to participate in City wide efforts.

ISF’s implements its nationally acclaimed RADAR Protocol within PDPH health centers to assess for and intervene when family violence is identified.  Since 1995, ISF has trained over 37,000 medical, child welfare, mental health, early childhood, and other professionals to use RADAR in order to promote family safety and identify and support victims experiencing child abuse and family violence.

Program Area Three: The Philadelphia Adverse Childhood Experience (ACEs) Project

The ACE Task Force is being co-chaired by Dr. Sandra Bloom, Dr. Joel Fein, and Dr. Lee Pachter and advised by Dr. Robert Anda, Co-Principal Investigator of the ACE Study, and Scattergood Foundation Scholar, Dr. Linda Chamberlain.  Emily Wilson, MPH, a Stoneleigh Foundation Fellow, is investigating the who, what, where, when and how of ACEs across the country and their implications for intervention in pediatric settings.

The RWJF is providing support for this first year of planning, which includes: 

  1. The development of an “Urban ACEs Questionnaire”, the first of its kind, that will redefine and expand the concept of ACEs to an inner city, multicultural context
  2. A population-based phone survey of 2,300 Philadelphia households to determine the number and percentage of ACEs among the population and the relationship between ACE scores and health outcomes
  3. Two qualitative studies regarding low-income urban youth and Latino families to identify and characterize the range of ACEs experienced and to describe the significance of ACEs on health status
  4. A National ACE Summit in Philadelphia on May 14, 2013, hosted by ISF, to present the survey findings and strategize the creation of a paradigm shift within pediatric health and mental health care, followed by a reception and forum presentation by national leaders in the field on “Childhood Lost: Finding Our Way Through Adversity and Toxic Stress.” 

Program Area Four: Promoting Education and Public Awareness

ISF sponsors community events and educational forums to raise awareness about the effects violence has on the family and community, and ISF staff attend and present at numerous conferences across the country each year.  The ISF website allows for wide access to information and materials as well. 

To support ISF’s program initiatives, ISF has developed educational materials and tools over its years of service, which are disseminated as widely as possible.  Among them are the Amazing Brain brochures, a series of four different booklets written at a fifth grade level to educate parents and caregivers about early brain development, the effects of trauma on the brain, and the potential for the brain to heal and grow.

ISF will continue to develop and distribute its array of materials for providers and families, including:  the Where to Turn for Help card, the Effects of Domestic Violence on Children brochure, and the If Children Live With posters, as well as the Men Can materials, the Partnering with Parents Toolkit, the Parenting After Violence Guide, the Caregivers Helping to Affect and Nurture Children Early (CHANCE) training materials and curriculum for the Early Care and Education community.