In the past, victims of abuse and violence and their non-offending family members described the process of seeking justice as burdensome. Although each of the agencies charged with responding to victims needs were well meaning and dedicated, the lack of collaboration and coordination had disastrous consequences for victims and families who felt re-victimized by the system. Children had to undergo repetitive interviews about the crime with different agency representatives, wait for long periods of time in overburdened emergency rooms only to be examined by inexperienced medical professionals, and be transported from location to location to receive necessary services.
In May, 1995 individuals representing community agencies and governmental units involved in child abuse cases met to explore ways to improve the criminal justice systems response to these victims. Participants identified the following problems:
- excessive interviews of child victims;
- inadequate development of physical evidence;
- incomplete investigations;
- lack of communication and coordination among agencies charged with responding to child abuse reports; and
- inadequate immediate and long-term services for children and their non-offending family members.
Subsequently, this body determined that the most effective way of addressing the above-noted problems was through the establishment of a childrens advocacy center in southern Arizona.
The Southern Arizona Children's Advocacy Center was established in 1996 under an agreement signed with the Pima County Attorney’s Office, the Pima County Sheriffs Department, the Tucson Police Department, Department of Economic Security/Child Protective Services, the Oro Valley Police Department and the Marana Police Department to work cooperatively in the investigation of child physical abuse, sexual assault, and neglect reports.