The city of Tempe's Family Advocacy Center aims to be open to serve the public on Jan. 1, 2023, according to city employees, a full year after it was initially expected to launch.
Kris Scharlau, Tempe's human services manager, said victim services staff have already moved into the designated space and are preparing to start welcoming sexual assault, domestic violence and other trauma victims at the beginning of the new year. The center's opening has been delayed twice before, with opening dates set in January 2022 and June 2022. Those were delayed due to issues with finding a location to house the center.
"Having never had an FAC before, we anticipated what we needed, but (then) you get into the space and you're like, 'wait, we still need this, this and that,'" Scharlau said. "So we're basically feeling that all out right now (and) getting the finishing touches on."
The new facility is divided into two parts. One will include victim services staff, a kitchen, quiet rooms and other resources for victims. The other will house detectives from the Tempe Police Department and ASU Police Department.
"The ASU Police Department will be dedicating two sex crimes detectives to the Tempe Family Advocacy Center," said ASU PD spokesperson Adam Wolfe in an email. "These detectives will handle all on-campus sex crime investigations for each campus under ASUPD jurisdiction."
Scharlau said there are also delays in getting technology for the police side of the facility, so police interviews will likely need to be conducted outside of the FAC until later in the year.
Victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and other trauma will have access to virtual court services, in-house police interviews, multiple different types of therapy and other services at the facility.
Scharlau said the center is two miles away from campus and will have ASU victim advocates to help student victims navigate traumatic situations. She said the center has been designed with students' needs in mind.
"What they need to know is that there is no day and no time that we won't be available for them," Scharlau said. "Even if that ASU advocate is not on site, maybe they're attending a meeting or something, we are so close with them, we work so closely with them that we're going to assist that (student)."
Sun Devils Against Sexual Assault, a support and advocacy group for sexual assault victims that is not affiliated with the University, has been advocating for a dedicated Campus Assault Advocacy, Resources & Education Center on campus for years. The center would prioritize ASU students, faculty and staff with an office on all four campuses by providing similar services as the Family Advocacy Center.
Susie Steckner, a spokesperson for the city of Tempe, said although the Family Advocacy Center is new to Tempe, the staff is not new to victim services. Most of the staff comes from the CARE 7 team, which works with victims of all types of trauma.
"Even though the FAC concept is new for us as a city, the depth of knowledge and experience and advocacy work that CARE 7 has goes back decades," Steckner said. "So we're bringing the best of that to a new location."
Scharlau said not everything will be ready by the January opening, but the center will continue to offer the services it can until the building is fully outfitted. She said she hopes students know the center is a resource available to them if they should ever need it.
"They're going to come here, they're going to get what they need," Scharlau said. "If we don't have it, we will find it. If it doesn't exist, we will make it. If they're an ASU student, but they live in Buckeye, I will connect them with what is close to them at home too."
Edited by Wyatt Myskow, David Rodish, Greta Forslund, Piper Hansen and Luke Chatham.
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Reagan Priest is a managing editor, overseeing and working with the six digital desks at The State Press. She previously worked as a social justice reporter for Cronkite News and as a digital production intern at The Arizona Republic.