A new report on the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center recommends that the center move from its current location to the proposed Family Safety Center.
The report, a 90-day assessment promised by Shelby County mayor A C Wharton when the county took the center over from the city in July, says the co-location of MSARC with the Family Safety Center would provide greater communication with partner agencies and illuminate possible economies of scale. The Family Safety Center is scheduled to open in January 2010.
Concerns over MSARC arose last spring after staffing issues forced two teenage victims of sexual assault to postpone getting forensic examinations. That controversy lead the city to enter into a partnership with LeBonheur and ultimately transfer MSARC to county government control.
As part of the partnership with LeBonheur, sexual assault victims age 12 and under are now examined at the Child Advocacy Center. Adolescent victims age 13 to 17 are examined there if they have been victimized by a relative or caregiver. If adolescent victims are victimized by a stranger, they are examined at MSARC.
There has been some question whether the city's partnership with LeBonheur would negatively effect MSARC's funding. Though younger victims are being diverted to another clinic, staffing costs for MSARC remain constant because a nurse has to be on-call at all times.
Currently, it costs $1.2 million to operate MSARC each year. That cost is offset by $660,000 in state reimbursements and $310,000 in grant funds.
The state of Tennessee reimburses the center $750 per each exam performed, and Tennessee residents make up 90 percent of MSARC's clients. Mississippi and Arkansas reimburse the center up to $1,000 for each exam.
"The total revenue for reimbursements could be expected to drop as much as 50 percent with the change in child victims going to LeBonheur. In addition to reimbursements, MSARC has a number of grants that provide support services," says the report.
A Victims of Crime Advisory League (VOCAL) also has been created to help with both a long-term plan for the center, as well as advice on victim issues going into the future.