Southern Arizona Childrenâ€™s Advocacy Center Opens Nogales Family Safety Center; Expansion Will Serve Child Victims of Human Trafficking Across 23,000 Square Miles
By Alison Bailin -
Tuesday Aug 16, 2022
The Childrenâ€™s Advocacy Center of Southern Arizona, a nonprofit that provides evidence collection and healing services for child victims of abuse, announces the opening of the Nogales Family Center. The Nogales Family Safety Center, an extension of Childrenâ€™s Advocacy Center of Southern Arizona, is located at 2170 North Congress Dr. in Nogales and features a private examination room outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment as well as an interview room and waiting area. It will support child survivors of human trafficking and abuse across 23,000 square miles throughout Southern Arizona, including Cochise, Pima, Graham, Greenlee and Santa Cruz counties. The Center is staffed by a nurse practitioner specially trained in forensic sexual assault examinations, as well as a trained forensic interviewer and victim advocates. Efforts already underway to deploy mobile units across the region to provide additional support and assistance will continue as well.
â€œThe Nogales Family Safety Center was created out of concern for victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, trafficking, and child abuse who do not have access to high-quality, integrated systems of care,â€ says Marie Fordney, M.A., executive director of Childrenâ€™s Advocacy Center of Southern Arizona. â€œUntil now, service providers and investigators operated independently, and victims were made to travel all the way to Tucson to receive some services, like the specialized medical care that is needed for sexual assault.â€
According to Fordney, this is a serious community health challenge because it means that not everyone has access to the same high-quality services and support.
â€œThe kind of services and support we know helps victims avoid long-term health consequences like depression, addiction, cancer, and heart disease. It helps victims become survivors and even thrive after a traumatic event,â€ says Fordney.
Funding for the Nogales Family Center was provided by a variety of organizations across Arizona including Mercy Care, The University of Arizona College of Nursing and The Governorâ€™s Office of Youth, Faith, and Family.
â€œThe Nogales Family Safety Center will provide a much easier way for the people of the community to access these services. Instead of driving to Tucson or even Phoenix, the nurse practitioner will go to the community, and the new facility is located in the community. This benefits the patient by removing a barrier to care, and it will help law enforcement in their efforts to prosecute perpetrators of violence,â€ says Amber Divens, M.Ed., childrenâ€™s system of care project manager for Mercy Care. â€œThrough Mercy C.A.R.E.S., our community reinvestment program supporting organizations that address key community health focus areas, Mercy Care provided a grant of $40,000 to support the purchase of a colposcope, a clinical instrument that is often used to gather forensic evidence in the case of sexual abuse. In addition, our funding will be used to fund part of the salary of the nurse practitioner that will work at the Center. The need for a Center like this is so important and Mercy Care is proud to provide funding to help make this happen.â€
The Center is phase one of a long-term commitment to children in rural communities of Arizona.
â€œThis is just the beginning. Like our sister Center in Tucson, the Nogales Family Safety Center is starting in borrowed space, with a very small staff and the support of our amazing partners. But our shared vision is to have a stand-alone center where we gather as partners with those we serve to find a path to healing,â€ says Fordney.
The Nogales Family Safety Center is built on proven-effective models. Outcomes of Family Justice Centers include reduced homicides; increased victim safety; increased victim empowerment; reduced fear and anxiety; reduced recantation; increased efficiency in collaborative services; increased prosecution; and increased community support for victims.
Currently, the Nogales Family Center is open by appointment only.
About Childrenâ€™s Advocacy Center of Southern Arizona
Established in 1996, Childrenâ€™s Advocacy Center of Southern Arizona and its partners are the front-line responders in Southern Arizona to reports of child abuse, serious maltreatment, and when children have witnessed violence or other crimes. Since its inception, the organization has served more than 25,000 children. For more information, visit http://www.cacsoaz.org.