Advocacy Center plans to expand
PRESCOTT VALLEY Rebecca Ruffner and local family advocates have big plans for the Family Advocacy Center in Prescott Valley.
Ruffner, the executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Arizona Inc., said that she is working to create a large family advocacy center with numerous agencies at the Prescott Valley Family Advocacy Center. The office is on the site of the former town hall near Bob Drive in south Prescott Valley. She said she is about to start a fund-raising campaign to revamp the site into a place with numerous advocacy offices.
"We are going to be taking the old town hall down as part of the plan, and we will be building a campus of offices," she said. "Prevent Child Abuse Arizona will be out there. We will have a whole continuum of co-located social services and early childhood family support services ... Kind of a one-stop shop, if you will."
Ruffner said she hopes that a family with financial, counseling and care needs should enter the center and be able to solve as many problems as possible in one visit.
Tricia Berlowe, the regional director of the Arizona's Children Association, said that she wants the center to provide a "whole range of things so that families get what they need at one time. It should be easy for them, friendly for them, (and) they feel comfortable coming. And then we hope we can do a whole lot more prevention with families."
Town Manager Larry Tarkowski said the Prescott Valley Town Council decided to create a favorable lease for Prevent Child Abuse (Ruffner's group) in 2000 after beginning construction on the new Civic Center. He said that Ruffner would need the council to approve any changes to the town's buildings.
"The staff at council's direction has been very supportive of the services that they bring to the table to assist our citizens," Tarkowski said. "They are a very interactive and supportive group."
Ruffner mentioned that she has discussed the site with staff from the Department of Economic Security, Catholic Social Services, the Arizona's Children Association, and Yavapai County about a juvenile probation office.
"Our biggest tenant at this point looks like it will be the Department of Economic Security," Ruffner said, adding that "we are taking kind of a 'wait and see' attitude until we actually find out how much square footage we are going to have under roof to lease."
Berlowe said that her Prescott office is "exploding at the seams" with about 20 paid staff members, and 15 to 20 volunteers. The countywide office helps families with crisis nursery care, facilitates adoptions, behavioral health programs, drug prevention, domestic violence prevention, a variety of counseling and much more. She described local advocacy groups as "tight-knit" and said that the groups would work very well next to each other.
Liz Barker, a spokesperson for the Department of Economic Security, said the department is still in the discussion stage with the local advocacy groups.
"We are interested in any opportunities coming along to better serve individuals," she said. "We have received an informal inquiry from the organizers of the Family Advocacy Center Š Basically, we are just in the very early stages of a discus-sion."
Ruffner said she expects to start fundraising in several months, but the Arizona Children Association will host a fund-raising dinner honoring local benefactors on June 25. Call Berlowe at 443-1991 for more information.
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