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Family Advocacy Center provides Tempe residents, ASU students with expanded services

Clinical counselors and medical services will be available on-site as soon as next week at the center, which saw its first client in February and provides trauma-informed care

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The Tempe Family Advocacy Center began operations in February and has served Tempe residents and ASU students with a variety of resources.

The Tempe Family Advocacy Center has officially opened and has begun providing Tempe residents with expanded trauma-informed services.

Kristen Scharlau, the human services manager of CARE 7, said while the center is not fully furnished and some services are not yet available, the center has begun to operate. According to CARE 7 spokesperson Susie Steckner, the FAC saw its first client on Feb. 22, after multiple delayed openings, and is still working to implement its full scope of services. 

"We're going to start our healing programs very soon, in the next week or so," Scharlau said. "Advocacy services, court advocacy, personal advocacy — that is all available right now."

CARE 7 is a city of Tempe crisis response unit that works in conjunction with the Tempe Police Department to provide on-scene assistance, support and follow-up resources for people experiencing trauma. The CARE 7 team consists of a full-time professional staff, volunteers, and interns from ASU. 

"It is basically a one-stop shop for people who have experienced some sort of trauma or crime," Scharlau said. "The center really is available to the entire community. … It belongs to Tempe."

The FAC, located two miles from campus, houses CARE 7 advocates who provide crisis intervention, trauma healing programs, sexual assault forensic exams and other victim services. Clinical counselors and medical services will be available on-site as soon as next week, according to Scharlau. The center will also house investigators from Tempe PD and the ASU Police Department.

Steckner said in an email because the FAC is a "confidential location," the address has not and will not be published. CARE 7 specialists are available 24/7 on the CARE & HOPE Hotline, (480) 350-8004, to connect people with the resources they need. 

Scharlau said the center provides centralization for CARE 7 and enables them to expand upon the services they have provided to Tempe over 25 years. 

"Now we have a beautiful facility that is designed with the victim in mind," Scharlau said. "There's really nothing that we can't provide for a victim, like we always have."

The FAC features accommodations like laundry services, child care areas and a café as well as a music and art therapy room and a yoga studio. In addition, the facility offers a room for clients to attend court virtually to avoid contact with their abuser.

"We have a lot of ideas that we're still procuring funding for," Scharlau said. "We are still figuring out what we need."

Scharlau said ASU has worked closely with CARE 7 during the FAC's development to assist in its functions and to help serve students. 

"It's in partnership with ASU, meaning that we intentionally engaged ASU staff in choosing the facility, helping design the facility, and having office space in the facility, so that they can provide services as well," Scharlau said. 

The FAC was originally proposed to now former Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell and city council members in 2017 by the Family Justice Commission. It was not until a meeting in 2020 that the initiative was explored by a city-commissioned task force that analyzed victimization rates in the city to determine the need for a FAC. The task force's findings led to a collaborative effort between ASU, Tempe PD and CARE 7 to develop and create the FAC.

ASU has committed staffing, research and financial support to the center, according to a memorandum by the FAC task force.

"ASU has always had a collaborative relationship with the city of Tempe and we continue to communicate closely to support their expansion plans for the benefit of our students and others in the community," a University spokesperson said. "The plan remains the same, keep a close relationship between ASU's Sexual and Relationship Violence and Victim's Services department and professional staff, including deployment of onsite services as needed for ASU students."

Sun Devils Against Sexual Assault, an advocacy group for sexual assault survivors that is not affiliated with the University, has been advocating for a dedicated Campus Assault Advocacy, Resources & Education Center on campus for years. The group will be hosting another protest on April 14. The center would provide much of the same resources as the FAC, with 17 full-time employees, nine of which would be confidential victim advocates not part of campus or local police departments. 

Edited by Shane Brennan, Jasmine Kabiri and Piper Hansen. 

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