The Albuquerque Family Advocacy Center serves adult and child victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and sexual abuse in the greater Albuquerque area.
Partnering with United Way of Central NM, the city will initially lease office space equipped with adequate medical amenities to co-locate police, emergency medical, caseworkers, and human services staff that deal with adult and child domestic and sexual abuse, all in one building.
During FY07 Mayor Martin Chavez and the City Council unanimously supported a proposal from the Albuquerque Police Department in conjunction with the Department of Family and Community Services and United Way of Central New Mexico to open a Family Advocacy Center in the heart of downtown Albuquerque. The vision: bring together law enforcement agencies and domestic violence professionals under one roof. To complete the mission, the City of Albuquerque had to combine its efforts and expertise to provide more services, more safety, and more justice to victims and their children. The Albuquerque Family Advocacy Center is poised to be the first facility in this state to house the Albuquerque Police Department's entire Crimes Against Children Unit, Sex Crimes Unit, Domestic Violence/Familial Violence Unit, Crisis, Outreach and Support Team, members of the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office, members of the NM State Police, staff from the Bernalillo County District Attorney's Office, and numerous community nonprofit domestic violence and sexual assault agencies and county agencies. For the first time in the history of the City of Albuquerque, the criminal justice community will have the opportunity to offer a wide range of services and tap the expertise of many professionals from a single location.
The goals of the Albuquerque Family Advocacy Center are to:
- Create a victim centered "one stop shop" to streamline communication among the various victim service agencies and the criminal justice system
- Reduce the re-victimization of victims by eliminating multiple interviews
- Provide a safe and comforting environment for victims seeking help
- Streamline the communication among the various agencies and systems
- Increase quality of evidence collected
- Increase prosecutions
- Decrease death rates
What about costs?
Collectively, funders need to spend the service money we are already spending smarter to get better outcomes. the primary difference in costs between a Family Advocacy Center model and the current service delivery system is the cost of the facility itself. The staff members who would be co-located continue to be paid out of their own existing budgets. The management of the Family Advocacy Centers, in the communities who have them include 3 to 5 staff members, depending on their size.
These start-up costs, while limited, were not anticipated in anyone's budget. Yet the need for the Family Advocacy Center is great. In order to assure forward progress on this effort, United Way is currently loaning one of its leadership staff members, Joanne Fine, to serve as the Project Director of the Albuquerque Family Advocacy Center to work in partnership with the City of Albuquerque and all other funders and partners until the Albuquerque Family Advocacy Center is opened. This cost is also being funded by Corporate Cornerstone funding from United Way. UWCNM is committed to working with the City of Albuquerque and other funders to create a Family Advocacy Center in Albuquerque.
Who needs to be on site initially?
The Family Advocacy Center does not require the relocation of whole agencies. Instead it co-locates specific organizational staff members who relate specifically to the crimes of intimate partner violence, child abuse, sexual assault and rape. Albuquerque Family Advocacy Center onsite and off-site partners will work together to assist victims.
The Albuquerque Police Department would relocate:
- Crimes Against Children Unit
- Sex Crimes Unit
- Domestic Violence/Familial Violence Unit
- School Resource Officers would meet at the FAC
- Crisis, Outreach and Support Team (C.O.A.S.T)
The Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office would relocate:
- 7 Detectives
- 2 Sergeants
The NM State Police would relocate:
- 2 Officers
The Bernalillo County District Attorney's Office staff members who relate primarily to these crimes:
- Para Los Ninos (provides medical exams for child abuse victims)
- Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (S.A.N.E. provides medical exams for victims of sexual assault and rape)
- Staff from organizations who serve special populations of victims who have cultural or language barriers to service (e.g. native women/children; immigrant and non-English speaking victims)
- Resources, Inc. Victim Assistance Unit (an advocacy agency working with victims of violence to negotiate legal and human service systems)
- Forensic Interviewers (who reduce the number of times a victim has to tell their story. the information is recorded for court purposes. Multiple entities can remotely observe the interview and add questions)
- Rape Crisis Center of Central New Mexico
- Family Court (Temporary Restraining Orders; Orders of Protections)
- Child Protective Services
- Legal Aid (for civil issues related to victim assistance)
- NM Crime Victim Reparations
Off Site Partners
- All Faith's Receiving Home, Safehouse Program
- Road Runner Food Bank
- DV Shelters
- Drug and Alcohol Treatment Programs
Improved outcomes are the reason to establish a Family Advocacy Center. If the experience of other Centers in an indicator, which it is, we will see the following:
Short Term Affects (1st Year)
- Increase in adult and children seeking services
- Increase in medical examinations and more timely evidence collection
- Increase in reports to Law Enforcement; reach deeper into the population that never report or seek services
- Decrease in recants
- Increase in willingness to press charges
Longer Term Affects
- More survivors who moved on to a healthier living environment
- Increases in the number of prosecutions due to better, more timely evidence
- Increased convictions for the same reason
- Increased guilty pleas by perpetrators because they know prosecutions are up
- Decrease in the time it takes to seek services (current average 12 years for adult victims); eventually leads to decrease in cycle of violence because you shorten the time children witness violence (50% of children who witness family violence become victims or perpetrators as adults)
- Decrease in death rates because the violence is stopped earlier in the escalation cycle