Tempe is one of the few surrounding cities in the Valley with no advocacy center for victims after violent crime and some residents want to change that.
The Tempe Family Justice Commission is working on a proposal for a one-stop center that would cater to the needs of victims of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking and sex trafficking.
The city provides all necessary resources for victims need, but the lack of a victims’ center makes getting help a challenge, according to commission member and CARE 7 manager Kristen Scharlau.
The proposed center would mainly be home to the CARE 7 program, which was established in 1997 to provides “a continuum of care” to people in crisis, including violent crime.
Its six different programs include a crisis response unit, case management and veteran’s services, counseling, high school youth specialists, trauma care, and victim help, according to Scharlau.
The crisis response unit will also assess a violent crime victim’s health and mental needs and provide resources on-site or through referrals.
“I do a lot of evictions and if I do an eviction and someone’s in crisis or they’re a family with kids and they don’t have anywhere to go, I call Care 7 and they come out and they take care of you. They do it,” founding chair member Karyn Lathan said.
The CARE 7 Community Counseling and Victim Services Unit accompanies victims through the whole court process and provides counseling as seen fit, according to Scharlau.
The unit also provides non-traditional methods as options, such as wellness and planning groups and “trauma-informed yoga.”
While the program has been a part of Tempe for over 20 years, more programs and help, including a support dog, continue to be added as the program grows according to Scharlau.
“It would just make sense that each neighborhood would have a localized place because obviously that victim went there because they must live in the neighborhood. It makes sense to kind of keep that level of trauma at a minimum while they share the impact of what their experience had,” said one resident who asked not to be named.
“It’s pretty obvious that if you have a one-stop-shop, more people are likely to actually report something,” Tempe resident Karen Crawford said.
The Tempe Family Justice Commission is still continuing to work on the best way to approach City Council with the proposal for an advocacy center.