Today DuPage County officials celebrated the groundbreaking of a new building on the Wheaton campus—the Jeanine Nicarico Children’s Advocacy Center and the DuPage County Family Center.
The DuPage County Children's Center investigates and processes all cases of child sexual and severe physical abuse in the County and works with children who witness violent crimes. The Center provides a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary response to allegations of child abuse in a dedicated, child-friendly setting. The building will also house the DuPage Family Center.
The center will be named in memory of Jeanine Nicarico, who was abducted from her home in 1983, DuPage County State's Attorney Bob Berlin said at a ground-breaking ceremony Tuesday.
“I cannot think of a better way to pay tribute to Jeanine Nicarico, a beautiful little girl who was taken from us far too early,” Berlin said. “While we are here today celebrating this new Center committed to improving the lives of young victims of sexual and physical abuse, we must not forget that it was a terrible tragedy committed nearly 30 years ago that brings us here today. We must not forget Jeanine. With this Center, Jeanine’s name will live on as a symbol of this County’s dedication and commitment to its children.”
DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin said in a statement that the building confirms the County’s ongoing commitment to protecting society’s most vulnerable population.
“We have the special responsibility to not only protect our most defenseless and innocent citizens, our children, but to ensure we have a network of services to help them work through some of life’s most difficult situations,” he said. “Sadly, we recognize that in even the safest of environments, unspeakable tragedy can occur, robbing us of the joy, potential and life of someone precious.”
Eighteenth Circuit Court Judge Rodney Equi said in a statement that the Family Center, which services families going through divorce and separation, helps children maintain healthy and loving relationships with both parents.
“In partnership with our family courts, it is the goal of the Family Center to maintain, establish and enhance those relationships by providing court-mandated divorce education, mediation, transitional neutral exchange services, supervised visitation and conflict resolution," Equi said.
The 15,000 square foot facility was designed by Serena Sturm Architects of Chicago. The County has hired Wight and Company of Darien to serve as resident engineer while the building is constructed by John Burns Construction of Orland Park. Construction is expected to begin by the end of the month. The agencies are expected to move into the new building in the fall of 2013.
Public Works Chairman Jim Healy said the current Children’s Advocacy Center is in need of major repairs and is no longer an economically functional building. The Advocacy Center is currently located on the County’s campus at 130 N. County Farm Road.
“After careful evaluation of all options, the County Board decided we could provide a more suitable, family-friendly location at a better price by constructing a new building to house both agencies,” he said.
The $5.4 million project will be paid for with a Community Development Block Grant, funds saved over the last several years specifically for this project, and fines set aside for the Children’s Advocacy Center through the Circuit Court to repay a loan from the County’s reserve fund.
“The County expects to save at least $100,000 annually from rent currently paid by the Family Center,” said Healy. “In addition, we will see substantial savings on utilities and maintenance costs over the life of this building.”
Equi said the cost savings from the move to the County campus will allow the Family Center to enhance its programs and provide more direct services for families. The Family Center is currently located off the County campus at 1525 N. Main Street in Wheaton.
Information courtesy of a press release from DuPage County.