Family advocacy center looking for funds

Kathleen McLaughlin is out and about these days, armed with a year's worth of data and looking for support.

McLaughlin is the director of the Yavapai Family Advocacy Center in Prescott Valley. The center provides comprehensive services for child and adult victims of family violence. Victims have the opportunity to obtain a variety of crisis services in one location, with all agencies working together in the best interest of the victim.

The center celebrated its first anniversary Wednesday. Activities celebrating that one-year anniversary are scheduled for Oct. 10 with Arizona Attorney General Janet Napolitano scheduled to visit.

McLaughlin visited with the Camp Verde Town Council Wednesday to inform the group of the advocacy center's mission and progress as well as to ask the council to assist in funding in the future. McLaughlin was seeking a commitment of 25 cents per resident towards her program.

"We are getting things done," McLaughlin said. "What I want to accomplish is to continue professional training... Two years ago we had two detectives certified as forensic investigators. This year we have 15."

The council could not vote on the request but will address the subject at a later meeting.

Another area where the center hopes to expand training is in helping victims of methamphetamine lab situations.

"There are so many things involved ... wellness exams, urine tests," McLaughlin said. "We hope to be doing more than that and to get more training in that area."

At the center, those affected by family violence work with law enforcement, medical and counseling professionals, child and adult protective services, and victim advocates to address their immediate needs and provide emotional support.

The mission of the Yavapai Family Advocacy Center is to assist the victims of child or vulnerable adult abuse or neglect, domestic violence or sexual assault by reducing additional trauma, insuring thorough investigation and enhancing prosecution through a multidisciplinary team process.

McLaughlin, a retired 23-year veteran of the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, told the Camp Verde Town Council that, on a countywide basis, the center serviced 157 victims in the first year of its existence. Of the 157 victims, 138 were the victims of adult crime and 19 were the victims of juvenile crime.

One hundred of the cases were referred by law enforcement agencies, 30 as a result of joint investigations by Child Protective Services (CPS) and law enforcement, 23 by CPS and four as a result of joint investigations by Adult Protective Services and law enforcement.

The breakdown of the crimes committed against the victims include: sexual conduct with a minor – 60, sexual assault – 39, child molestation – 25, physical abuse – 20, child abuse/neglect – six, children removed from a methamphetamine lab environment – two, emotional abuse – one, and physical assault – one.

In the Camp Verde area, 18 victims were helped by the center. Of those cases, 13 were referred directly by law enforcement agencies and five as a result of joint investigations by Adult Protective Services and law enforcement.

The breakdown of the crimes committed against the victims in Camp Verde includes: sexual conduct with a minor – nine, neglect and abuse – five, and sexual abuse – four.

In the Cottonwood area, 11 victims were serviced by the center. Of those cases, nine were referred directly by law enforcement agencies and two as a result of joint investigations by Adult Protective Services and law enforcement.

The breakdown of the crimes committed against the victims in Cottonwood includes: sexual assault – six, child molestation – two, sexual conduct with a minor – one, physical assault – one, and vulnerable adult abuse – one.

In the Clarkdale area, three victims were serviced by the center. All three were referred directly by law enforcement agencies.

The breakdown of the crimes committed against the victims in Clarkdale includes: sexual assault – one, sexual conduct with a minor – one, and child abuse – one.

All statistics represent the one-year period from Oct. 3, 2000, to Oct. 3 of this year.

The center does not handle all cases Yavapai County cases where domestic violence is involved.

McLaughlin said one of those reasons is that Verde Valley agencies do not refer victims for "logistical" reasons.

"There is the distance factor," between the agencies and the center, she said.

McLaughlin feels that other crime victims are not being helped by the agency because the crimes are going unreported, specifically in the area of date rape with the victims being teenage girls.

"I have a feeling they are out there but they're just not getting reported," McLaughlin said.

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