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Family Justice Centers

Family Justice Center Announcements

TENNESSEE MOVES FORWARD TO HELP COMBAT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE BY PROVIDING MORE SUPPORT FOR VICTIMS WITH ... ONE CALL TO MAKE, ONE PLACE TO GO.

In accordance with Governor Haslam´ Public Safety Action Plan (see http://news.tn.gov/node/8260 for more information), the Office of Criminal Justice Programs is actively engaged with local communities to increase the number of Family Justice Centers. Tennessee has two established Family Justice Centers, one in Knoxville and one in Memphis. In 2013, three additional cities received funding to start Family Justice Centers. Nashville, Cookeville, and Chattanooga obtained grants to assist them in planning and implementing a Family Justice Centers to reduce the number of domestic violence incidents in their local communities.

According to the Violence Policy Center´s 2013 report, "When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2011 Homicide Data" Tennessee ranks sixth overall for states where men murder women. Since the inception of the report in the late 1990´s, Tennessee has ranked consistently in the top 15 states. The documented and published outcomes of the Family Justice Center model include the following: reduced homicides; increased victim safety; increased autonomy and empowerment for victims; reduced fear and anxiety for victims and their children; increased efficiency and coordination among service providers; and reduced recantation and minimization by victims when wrapped in services and support. (See Casey Gwinn, Gael Strack, Hope for Hurting Families: Creating Family Justice Centers Across America (Volcano Press 2006)). The Family Justice Center approach is based on the San Diego Family Justice Center model which has been identified as a best practice in the field of domestic violence intervention and prevention services by the United States Department of Justice.

The Family Justice Center model is the co-location of a multi-disciplinary team of professionals who work together, under one roof, to provide coordinated services to victims of family violence. Many communities use the name "Family Justice Center" though some communities select a different name to describe their multi-agency service delivery models. Family Justice Centers are specifically defined in federal law (VAWA 2005, H.R. 3402-17) and refer to the co-location of staff members from multiple agencies under one roof. While a Family Justice Center may house many partners, the critical partners include police officers, prosecutors, civil legal service providers, and community-based advocates. The core concept is to provide one place where victims can go to talk to an advocate, plan for their safety, interview with a police officer, meet with a prosecutor, receive medical assistance, receive information related to shelter, and receive help with transportation. For more information regarding the Family Justice Center model, please visit the Family Justice Center Alliance´s website (http://www.familyjusticecenter.org/).

After a solicitation in the spring of 2013, three cities; Chattanooga, Cookeville, and Nashville, were awarded a three year funding opportunity from OCJP Byrne JAG federal funds to pay for a Family Justice Center Site Coordinator. This position is responsible for successfully pulling together and coordinating all of the entities that will make their Family Justice Center a reality.

Tennessee is only the second state in the Nation to launch a Statewide Family Justice Center initiative, and the first to fund the start-ups through grants with the state.

The 3 funded cities came together in Knoxville on October 1, 2013 for a press conference and an initial day of training. Representatives from the chosen cities of Chattanooga, Cookeville, and Nashville were greeted with words of encouragement from Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons. "While reported domestic violence incidents in Tennessee are down more than 10 percent compared to last year, domestic violence continues to make up a large percentage of all reported violent crimes, with over 50,000 incidents already reported this year. We know that in order to reduce crime in our state, we have to reduce violence in the home. Expanding the number of family safety centers is one of the steps in the Governor´s Public Safety Action Plan to get us to that goal and help make Tennessee safer," Commissioner Gibbons said. Commissioner Gibbons also presented each city with a proclamation signed by Governor Haslam proclaiming October as Domestic Violence Awareness month. Commissioner Gibbons heads the Governor´s Public Safety Subcabinet.

While in Knoxville, the newly funded cities also received a full day of orientation and learning from leaders of Tennessee´s two current existing Family Justice Centers in Memphis and Knoxville. During the next few years as the new sites strive to make their Family Justice Centers come to life, they will continue to receive ongoing technical assistance from the Knoxville Family Justice Center (http://fjcknoxville.com/) and from the Memphis Safety Center ( http://www.familysafetycenter.org/).

 Commissioner Bill Gibbons addressing city leaders and the press in Knoxville

Commissioner Bill Gibbons addressing city leaders and the press in Knoxville

Leaders from the Upper Cumberland Family Justice Center team pose for a picture with their proclamation signed by Governor Haslam

Leaders from the Upper Cumberland Family Justice Center team pose for a picture with their proclamation signed by Governor Haslam


Leaders from Chattanooga’s Family Justice Center team pose with Knoxville´s Mayor Madeline Rogero

Leaders from Chattanooga’s Family Justice Center team pose with Knoxville´s Mayor Madeline Rogero

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean announcing at a local Press conference

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean announcing at a local Press conference that Nashville has been chosen for funding of a Family Justice Center


Executive Directors from the Knoxville Family Justice Center and Memphis Safety Center

Executive Directors from the Knoxville Family Justice Center and Memphis Safety Center speaking at the conference

OCJP Director Bill Scollon addressing leaders of the newly funded cities

OCJP Director Bill Scollon addressing leaders of the newly funded cities during the orientation in Knoxville

A Media Release from the Department of Safety and Homeland Security:
"Tennessee moves forward on Family Justice Center effort to help combat Domestic Violence, provide more support for Victims”

NOTE: Please contact Susan French at susan.french@tn.gov for more information on starting Tennessee´s Statewide Family Justice Center initiative in your community.

 

Tennessee Family Justice Center Statewide Alliance: Guidelines 

PURPOSE AND STRUCTURE 

  1. A family justice center (FJC) is a multiagency, multidisciplinary service center where public and private agencies assign staff members on a full-time or part-time basis to provide services to victims from one location in order to reduce the number of times victims must tell their story, reduce the number of places victims must go for help, and increase access to services and support for victims and their children.
  2. The purpose of a family justice center is to facilitate and coordinate service to victims.  Therefore, convicted or suspected batterers/criminals shall not receive services (such as batterers’ intervention services) at a family justice center, as this would pose safety concerns for victims and staff.
  3.  “Victims” include victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, elder or dependent adult abuse, child abuse, stalking, and human trafficking, depending on the availability of services
  4. Family justice centers are required to maintain memoranda of understanding (MOU) with key agencies, outlining each agency’s support for the FJC and the extent to which each agency will participate (onsite and/or offsite) with the FJC.  These MOU’s are to be reviewed and updated annually.  Those key agencies shall include, at a minimum:
    1. City/county government;
    2. Local law enforcement agency(ies) – city and county if applicable;
    3. Agency(ies) whose primary mission is to serve domestic violence clients;
    4. District attorney’s office; and
    5. Civil-legal agency.
  5. Staff members at a family justice center may comprise, but are not limited to, the following:
    1. Law enforcement personnel;
    2. Community-based domestic violence, rape crisis, and human trafficking shelter and/or court advocates;
    3. Social service agency staff;
    4. Child welfare agency social workers;
    5. Child Advocacy Centers;
    6. Animal services provider;
    7. District attorneys and city attorneys;
    8. Victim-witness program personnel;
    9. Civil-legal service providers;
    10. Counseling professionals;
    11. Medical personnel;
    12. Public health department staff;
    13. City/county welfare and public assistance workers;
    14. Supervised volunteers from partner agencies; and
    15. Other professionals providing services.
  6. Clients shall not be required to participate in the criminal justice system or cooperate with law enforcement in order to receive safety planning, counseling, medical care, or other services at the family justice center. 
  7. Clients shall not be denied services on the grounds of criminal history. 
  8. If a conflict is discovered, the conflicting client will be referred to another service provider to receive services. 

COORDINATED COMMUNITY RESPONSE FUNCTION OF FJC

Family justice centers are not merely a co-located building, but rather serve as a vital coordinating entity in each community, facilitating collaboration among all agencies that address domestic violence, keep domestic violence crime victims safe, and hold abusers accountable.

  1. Family justice centers and their partners (in addition to other appropriate agencies and individuals) shall maintain an active and ongoing Coordinated Community Response (CCR) team.
    1. A CCR is a multi-disciplinary criminal justice intervention in domestic violence that works to ensure safety for victims and accountability for abusers. Each agency has a role in this collaboration, providing a consistent response from both public and private domestic violence service providers. The CCR tracks the system’s response to domestic violence cases, monitors compliance with policies and procedures, identifies gaps in victim safety and abuser accountability, and facilitates change to address developing trends.
    2. CCR teams shall meet regularly (quarterly, at a minimum) to plan and implement appropriate assessments and interventions, in order to achieve improved victim safety and abuser accountability. 
  2. Each family justice center shall consult with community-based domestic violence, sexual assault, elder or dependent adult abuse, stalking and human trafficking agencies (where available and applicable) in partnership with survivors of violence and abuse in the operations process of the family justice center.
  3. Each family justice center shall establish procedures for the ongoing input, feedback, and evaluation of the family justice center by survivors of violence and abuse and community-based crime victim service providers and advocates.
  4. Each family justice center shall develop policies and procedures, in collaboration with local community-based crime victim service providers and local survivors of violence and abuse, to ensure coordinated services are provided to clients and to enhance the safety of clients and professionals at a family justice center.

CLIENT SERVICES & CONFIDENTIALITY

  1. All family justice centers shall maintain a formal client feedback, complaint, and input process to address client concerns about services provided or the conduct of family justice center professionals, agency partners, and volunteers providing services in a family justice center. This input process may include (but is not limited to) client exit surveys and client focus groups.
  2. Each family justice center shall maintain an informed client consent policy and shall be in compliance with all state and federal laws protecting the confidentiality of the types of information and documents that may be in a victim’s (physical or electronic) file, including, but not limited to, medical and legal records.  At no time shall a victim be required to sign a client consent form to share information in order to access services. 
  3. FJCs and partner agencies shall follow federal and state laws regarding mandatory reporting, such as child abuse, elder/dependent adult abuse, homicidal/suicidal statements, and any other applicable laws/policies.  Each family justice center shall obtain written acknowledgement that the victim has been informed of this policy. 
  4. A victim’s consent to share information pursuant to the client consent policy shall not be construed as a waiver of confidentiality or any privilege held by the victim or family justice center professionals. 
  5. If convicted or suspected domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse or stalking offenders are permitted in the FJC building (e.g. for the purpose of suspect interviews), it is highly recommended that offenders be brought to the FJC building by the FJC and partner agencies; and that offenders shall be escorted at all times by police and must enter and exit through a separate entrance not visible to the entrance used by victims. Appropriate safeguards must be in place to prevent access to the portion of the FJC where victims receive services.
  6. Each family justice center shall maintain a formal training program of not less than eight hours per year with mandatory training for FJC staff members, volunteers, and representative professionals of MOU partner agencies.

This Page Last Updated: November 20, 2017 at 11:06 AM