Philadelphia, August 26,2013 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter, City officials andpartner organizations officially opened the Philadelphia Safety Collaborative,the newly co-located site for members of the Philadelphia Police Department(PPD) Special Victims Unit (SVU), Department of Human Services (DHS) SexualAbuse Investigation Unit, Philadelphia Children’s Alliance and staff from the DistrictAttorney’s Office.
The Collaborative integrates and brings underone roof the services of the partner agencies, thereby streamlining theinvestigative process for incidents of sexual abuse. Prior to the opening of this facility, childrenand their families were required to visit multiple locations throughout thecity. The Collaborative team approachnow reduces the number of staff-victim interactions by coordinating the effortsof the tenant activities. This resultsin a reduced level of trauma for those serviced by the new facility.
“The Philadelphia Safety Collaborative hasbeen a decades-long hope for our city. We have worked in conjunction with a number of critical partners tocreate this facility that will reduce the adverse impact on victims and theirfamilies,” said Mayor Nutter. “I amincredibly proud of the commitment that the Philadelphia Safety Collaborativerepresents with respect to providing for the well-being and safety of childrenwho have suffered sexual abuse and promoting the interest of justice. It is another example of how the City isworking to coordinate crime-response strategies more effectively for ourcitizens.”
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said, “Our Special Victims Unit encounters very sensitiveissues, and so children need to be treated with compassion andhumanity. The new site allows our investigators, DHS and our advocatepartners to be available at one location, providing the best services for thesevictims, especially during such traumatic experiences. This is collaborationfor justice, for service and most importantly for these children.”
DHS CommissionerAnne Marie Ambrose added, “As child welfare professionals, one of ourgreatest concerns is that our efforts to investigate abuse do not furthertraumatize its victims. The thoughtfuldesign of the Philadelphia Safety Collaborative will help lessen the trauma ofthe investigative process by offering a comfortable, child-friendly place forchildren to receive services and by allowing our partner agencies toeffectively coordinate their efforts in a single location.”
Located at 300 E. Hunting ParkAvenue, the 42,000-square-foot facility, renovated by Ironstone Partners, LLC,will feature two entrances for use by PPD SVU, as well as a shared entrance forDHS and the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance. In addition, it includes an internal meditationgarden and a parking lot for about 250vehicles, interview rooms, on-site medical exams and psychologicalservices. Offices are alsoprovided for the Philadelphia Sexual Assault Response Center (PSARC),which operates under the Drexel School of Emergency Medicine. PSARC provides medical services that assistin the collection of evidence for cases involving adult victims (16 years orolder) of sexual violence.
“Predatorswho sexually abuse children survive by creating a culture of silence,” saidFirst Assistant District Attorney Edward McCann. “It is an environment wherechildren are too afraid, ashamed and confused to speak up. This newcenter will help change that environment. By placing all of theseagencies under one roof we are sending a simple message to all sexually abusedchildren in Philadelphia – we’ve got your back.”
The Philadelphia SafetyCollaborative will accommodate a staff of approximately 120 full and part-timepersonnel from socialservices, the health/medical community, the Police Department and childadvocates. These partner activities havethe capability to respond in an expedited manner to provide the needed services.
“This new facility and co-locatedprogram demonstrates that the City of Philadelphia is prioritizing itschildren by promising the best response to allegations of abuse,” saidChristine Kirchner, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance. “Since 1989, we have been collaborating onchild sexual abuse investigations with our partner agencies, the SpecialVictims Unit, DHS and the DA's office, but now that we are all under one roof,we can enhance and expand our team approach. We have the ability to serve thefull scope of children who need us with a timely response in a child-friendlyfacility with on-site medical and mental health services.”
Bill No. 120084, the SVU/DHS Co-Location Bill, introduced byCouncilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, was signed by Mayor Nutter on April 10,2012. The project broke ground on August3, 2012. During construction,approximately 85 full and part time jobs were created.
“I am proud to host this uniquecollaboration that will protect our most vulnerable citizens, our children andtheir families. The Public Safety Collaborative will put the needs ofthese victims first and work together to protect and serve children,” saidCouncilwoman Maria Quiñones- Sánchez.
Philadelphia Children’s Alliance Imagine a safe haven, where everychild affected by the trauma of sexual abuse in Philadelphia is able to beginthe healing process; a place where experts in the fields of social work, lawenforcement, child protective services, medicine and prosecution collaborate toachieve justice for each child; a place that works to ensure that justice iscarried out; that place is the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance (PCA). Thereare 1,600 reports of child sexual abuse each year in Philadelphia, PCA works tobring healing and justice to every child.