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posted: 10/22/2013 5:30 AM

DuPage County Family Center to debut new digs

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A DuPage department that provides services to families going through divorce or separation is celebrating the opening of its new digs on the county's Wheaton campus.

The Family Center is holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony at noon today at its new location along County Farm Road.

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The center works in conjunction with the DuPage County Circuit Court to provide court-mandated divorce education, mediation, transitional neutral exchange services, supervised parenting time and conflict management groups.

Officials say the newly constructed building will offer "a safe, conflict-free and child-friendly environment" for families served by the center.

Both the new Family Center and the adjacent Jeanine Nicarico Children's Advocacy Center were built as part of the same $5.6 million project. The work was paid for with a grant, court fines and money saved specifically for the buildings.

County board member Jim Healy says DuPage already was planning to construct the children's advocacy center when the decision was made to add the Family Center to the project.

"We took advantage of the cost savings of building two things at once," said Healy, who is chairman of the county board's public works committee.

DuPage was renting office space in Wheaton for the Family Center.

With the new building, the county is expected to save about $100,000 a year in rent, utilities and maintenance costs, according to Healy. The facility also is part of the county campus.

"By having a facility right there, it's going to be easier for everybody," he said.

The facility has two separate parking lots and entrances, a secured hallway and "welcoming features" such as waiting rooms filled with games and toys, county officials said. Some rooms are painted with murals of animals in an effort to ease children's anxiety as they leave one parent to visit with the other.

The building was designed by Serena Sturm Architects of Chicago and built by John Burns Construction of Orland Park.

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