By Eden Laikin
Long Islanders will be safer now that Nassau County has become a model for, and leader in, abuse prevention with the unveiling of an innovative and collaborative center that provides a multitude of related services for all abuse victims, under one roof, experts say.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano today announced the formal opening of a newly restructured Safe Center Long Island, which for the first time in our area can treat survivors of sexual, family, domestic, and child abuse as well as the family members of the one abused.
The Safe Center LI in Bethpage, joins together the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Center for Child Abuse and Neglect, with a Nassau County Multidisciplinary Team consisting of the Police Department’s Special Victims Squad, Social Services’ Child Protective Services Units, Nassau University Medical Center’s Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect Unit, and the District Attorney’s Office.
“The official opening of The Safe Center LI completes a three year period where the founding agencies shared their location and took the innovative merger through the practical realities of fiscal, strategic and programmatic planning,” County Executive Mangano told those gathered at the center for a press conference this morning. “Moving forward, the people of Long Island will have access to programs and services in a manner that only a handful of communities in the country have. We are moving to the absolute leading edge in the effort to combat family violence, sexual assault and various types of abuse.”
Formally merging the two programs into The Safe Center Long Island, has become a national model for multiple health and human service agencies to collaboratively combat family and domestic violence.
“They all work hand in hand within the Safe Center Long Island to help protect children and families from abuse, neglect and trauma,” Mangano said. .
Mangano was joined at today’s press conference by District Attorney Kathleen Rice, Coalition Against Domestic Violence Executive Director Sandy Oliva and Coalition Against Child Abuse and Neglect Executive Director Cynthia Scott.
“When violence does strike, staff of the Safe Center Long Island, are prepared to intervene decisively to assist those victims whose lives have been affected by physical and emotional abuse and trauma,” Mangano said. “
Sandy Oliva said it was “through early vision and perseverance,” that the two agencies were able to navigate more than a few roadblocks and – as independent agencies, with independent missions – learn to work hand in hand.”
“Today’s announcement of this world class facility, which combines unique, comprehensive integrated service, means that Long Islanders will be safer,” Oliva said. “The tagline for the center is Restoring Hope for Victims of Abuse.”
District Attorney Rice called the merger a “progressive and groundbreaking collaboration” benefitting the “most vulnerable among us.”
And co-executive director of the Safe Center LI, Cynthia Scott, spoke about the importance of being able to serve the whole family, not just the one abused, so that all family members can begin healing at the same time. “People have a place to come where we can meet their needs,” Scott said. “Making access to these services makes it so much easier for the whole family as we try to help piece together their lives again. We take shattered lives and help put them back together again. We help them identify as survivors, not victims.”
Oliva introduced County Executive Mangano to speak at today’s event, by saying he has made family and domestic violence a priority in his administration.
“A year into his first term, he declared violence a public health emergency, and he later developed a public relations campaign proclaiming that violence is not the answer,” Oliva said. “And, he has created a task force that has successfully coordinated community response to abuse. He is a concerned and accessible leader.”