Two like-minded nonprofit agencies that help victims of different types of abuse officially merged Tuesday into The Safe Center LI, a facility where victims of sexual or domestic violence can seek assistance.
After about a decade of discussions, the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Coalition Against Child Abuse & Neglect—two agencies that have been around for more than three decades each—combined their resources to create a collaborative program that transforms how they care for victims.
“Co-locating would give us the opportunity to coordinate services to families,” said Sandy Oliva, co-executive director of Safe Center LI, who previously served as the executive director of the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The new venture is a “truly mission-driven endeavor,” she said.
Safe Center LI’s programs include child advocacy, a 24/7 multilingual hotline, legal counseling, mental health, rape and sexual assault services, emergency and transitional housing, group work services and education outreach.
Joining nonprofit officials in announcing the merger was Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, whose wife, Linda, has advocated for the group in the past, and Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, whose office works closely with the group when victims of such crimes turn to the agency for help.
“It’s not just about punishing the bad guys and holding them accountable,” Rice said, noting that the collaboration between the two groups provides critical support that her office, and many other governmental organizations cannot provide. “You cannot overstate the significance of a facility like this.”
When Rice was first elected in 2005, victims were “shuttled from building to building,” which was “traumatizing to those very vulnerable people,” she said.
Safe Center LI officials also touted the work of the Nassau County Police Department, whose Special Victim Squad detectives are housed at the facility. The unit has nine detectives and two supervisors that investigate sexual assault and related cases. An Assistant District Attorney from Rice’s office is also often on site.
With the merger official, Safe Center LI will soon begin to focus on sex trafficking and helping the county monitor sex offenders, said Cynthia Scott, co-director of Safe Center LI, and the former executive director of the Coalition Against Child Abuse & Neglect.
The overall goal is to be a safe haven to all people, no matter race, gender or age, officials said.
Though it’s located in Nassau, the group’s directors said Suffolk County residents are welcome to call the hotline and seek out help, but they may be better off reaching out to similar agencies in Suffolk, especially if a crime has been committed.
One such group, the Suffolk County Child Advocacy Center at The Mary & Pat Bagnato Place for Kids, similarly aids families and victims of abuse on eastern Long Island.
Safe Center LI is located at 15 Grumman Road, Bethpage, NY.