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Office of the Child Advocate: For Professionals & Organizations
Child First Delaware

What is Child First?
Current Faculty and Administrators
Resources and Publications


Child First™ (formerly Finding Words) first came to Delaware in 2006 as a project of the Department of Justice’s Abuse Intervention committee (AIC). In 2004, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Delaware (CAC) sent Det. Mary Devine (NCCPD) and Linda Shannon (DFS) to Maryland Finding Words in Easton, MD. Following this session, Delaware applied to be a Finding Words state. In October of 2004 the application was accepted and planning began shortly thereafter in the beginning of 2005. The first five day training session was held on January 30, 2006 at the University of Delaware’s Clayton Hall in Newark, DE. Between January 2006 and April 2012, 295 individuals were trained, 31% of whom were DFS workers and 28% of whom were statewide law enforcement officers.

What is Child First?

  • Child First™ is an intensive five-day course in which students learn the necessary skills to conduct a competent investigative interview of a child abuse victim using the CornerHouse forensic interview process entitled RATAC®.
  • Child First™ is an interactive course which combines lectures with demonstrations and hands-on experience.  Students will be required to interview a child about a non-abuse event to be critiqued by an expert forensic interviewer.  Students will also conduct a 30 minute interview with an actor/actress playing the role of an abused child and will be critiqued on their performance.
  • Child First™ Delaware is a course taught by faculty trained and certified by the NAPSAC’s National Child Protection Training Center in collaboration with CornerHouse, a non-profit interagency child abuse evaluation and training center located in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  • Child First™ is the ideal course for law enforcement officers, social workers, prosecutors, child protection attorneys, and forensic interviewers seeking to enhance their ability to speak to and for abused children.
  • Since the start of Child First™(formerly Finding Words) in Delaware approximately 259 child protection professionals have been trained, representing all three of Delaware’s counties. This program has allowed for an increase in the number of interviewers using a consistent interviewing protocol and techniques, utilizing a team approach among the police, DFS, DOJ, and CAC, and enhancing communication between disciplines. Delaware Child Abuse Investigators and prosecutors now use a protocol based on research that is defensible in court.


  • Next session: October 14-18, 2013 in Newark, DE. To register, please click on the Delaware Child Welfare Training Calendar and locate Child First™ under the specified dates in October. You will be redirected to Eventbrite to complete the registration.
  • For Advanced Training Opportunities, please visit the National Child Protection Training Center's Website at and click on Training Conferences.
  • For more information about Delaware's Child First™ training program, please contact the Coordinator, Rosalie Morales at

Current Faculty and Administrators

  • Faculty
    • Laura Burritt,  Children’s Advocacy Center of Delaware (CAC)
    • Dominique Daniago, Division of Family Services (DFS)
    • Jean Gardner, Division of Family Services (DFS)
    • Dee Gruber, Children’s Advocacy Center of Delaware (CAC)
    • Diane Klecan, Children’s Advocacy Center of Delaware (CAC)
    • Jodi Lashley, Children's Advocacy Center of Delaware (CAC)
    • Joann Smiley, New Castle County Police
    • Victoria Witherell, Department of Justice (DOJ)
  • Administrators
    • Jessica Begley, Training Coordinator, Office of the Child Advocate
    • Jean Gardner, Division of Family Services (DFS)
    • Diane Klecan, Children's Advocacy Center of Delaware (CAC)
    • Rosalie Morales, Program Administrator, Office of the Child Advocate


Resources and Publications

  • Please visit the National Child Protection Training Center's Website at and click on Publications.

Group of People photo
For Professionals
Delaware Child Welfare Training Calendar
Mandatory Reporting Trainings
Child First Delaware
Stewards of Children
Introduction to Child Welfare Agencies/Services
Protecting Delaware's Children Conference Series


How to Contact the Office of the Child Advocate:
900 King Street, Suite 210
Wilmington, DE 19801
Voice (302) 255-1730
Fax (302) 577-6831
6 West Market Street, Suite 1
Georgetown, DE 19947
Voice (302) 856-5720
Fax (302)856-5722