‘One stop shopping’ helps abuse victims avoid telling and retelling their stories

 Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter cuts the ceremonial ribbon at the Philadelphia Safety Collaborative in Hunting Park. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter cuts the ceremonial ribbon at the Philadelphia Safety Collaborative in Hunting Park. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

A new Philadelphia facility designed to make it easier for victims of sexual abuse to get on the road to recovery is being heralded as a national model. 

The Philadelphia Safety Collaborative in Hunting Park is putting in one place the police and District Attorney, victim counseling and medical treatment for abuse victims.

Philadelphia Children’s Alliance Executive Director Chris Kirchner says her group has been trying to consolidate services for almost two decades. She says the new facility is already succeeding in its first two weeks of operation.

“In one instance we had a child who was assaulted on a Tuesday, came in for an interview on a Wednesday he met the therapist on a Wednesday and on Friday he started therapy,” said Kirchner. “With child sexual abuse there’s shame, there’s secrecy and so it is really critical that the systems that are mandated to respond to these cases do so as efficiently and effectively as possible from the beginning of the investigation.”

Before picking this industrial neighborhood, Kirchner says it was hard to find a location where all groups could fit. Philadelphia averages about 1,600 cases of abuse a year. She says the new facility should give them the room to handle it all.

Department of Human Services Commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose says putting everyone in one place forces agencies to work together.

“It’s nice to finally be working with partners who are standing together and committed to delivering on behalf on our kids and families,” said Ambrose.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey says the facility will be a national model.

“In October of this year the International Association of Chief’s of Police will be having their its annual meeting here in Philadelphia, and I expect quite a few police chiefs from around the world are going to want to come here and take a look at this facility,” said Ramsey.

There is actually federal funding to replicate the consolidated facilities around the country.

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