What Outcomes Could a Family Justice Center
Create for Charlotte-Mecklenburg?

In 2002, the first Family Justice Center was created in San Diego, California and, since that time, the model has been replicated over 130 times internationally. The  Family Justice Center offers victims of abuse all the services they need under one roof and access to this support through a single, trauma informed  intake process.

In 2005, Congress recognized the importance of the Family Justice Center model and included FJC's as a "purpose area" in Title I of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA 2005).  According to the Office on Violence against Women (OVW), documented and published FJC outcomes include:
  • Increased victim safety
  • Increased autonomy and empowerment for victims
  • Improved offender prosecution outcomes
  • Reduced homicides
  • Reduced fear and anxiety for victims and their children
  • Reduced recantation and minimization by victims when wrapped in services and support
  • Increased efficiency among service providers through the provision of collaborative services to victims
  • Dramatically increased community support for the provision of services to victims and their children
The Umbrella Center welcomes the opportunity to bring life-changing and life-saving support to Charlotte -Mecklenburg similar to the impact made by Family Justice Centers across the US and the world. Below are highlights of outcomes as well as links to full reports and studies.

Increasing Victim Safety

Like at the Nampa Family Justice Center, where 96% of victims reported that since receiving services their level of domestic violence had decreased or stopped, and 89 % of victims reported their overall well-being had improved.

Like the Buncombe Family Justice Center, that reported 97% of victims surveyed after meeting with an FJC Intake Specialist indicated that they had a plan to keep themselves safe and they knew what to do if they were in danger. In FY18 61% of victims accessing integrated intake at the FJC connected with more than one agency during their first visit.

Like California Family Justice Centers where victims received between  1.3 and 4.4  services  with the number going as high as 12 for some clients and 56% of survivors received services they needed  in one day rather than multiple days.

Like the Nashville Family Safety Center, that has demonstrated a steady increase in client visits since opening in early 2019. In its first year of operations, the FSC experienced a 33% average monthly client visit growth rate and an increase in multiple client victimization categories, particularly in elder abuse (667% increase), child sexual abuse (114% increase), child physical abuse (104% increase), adult sexual assault (83% increase), sex trafficking (71% increase), and stalking (30% increase). With the opening of the FJC, services for children grew by 293%.

Like the Guilford County Family Justice Center, that reported 4,852 victim contacts in their first year (FY 16) and has seen a steady increase each year, with 11,183 contacts in FY 20.

Like the Family Justice Center of Sonoma County, that, through their FJC collaboration, learned that 91% of their clients experienced polyvictimization (the cumulative impact of multiple types of victimizations and adverse experiences over the course of one's life) and spearheaded holistic changes to service delivery.

Increasing Autonomy and Empowerment for Victims

Like California Family Justice Centers that found the average ACE score for FJC clients was 3.3 and that 45.3% of clients  had an ACE score of 4 or higher. Victims reported improvement in hope and wellbeing indicators as a result of their engagement in the Family Justice Center including the following:
  • Statistically significant increase in satisfaction with life
  • Statistically significant increase in  positive emotional experience
  • Statistically significant decrease in negative emotional experience
  • Statistically significant increase in affect balance  
Like the Sojourner Family Peace Center in Milwaukee,  where clients reported higher scores after FJC services on Likert Hope and MOVERS scales that measure victim motivation and ability to achieve future goals as well as empowerment.  On an 8-point scale, ratings increased from 5.7 to 6.4 and 3.9 to 4.4 respectively between intake and 6 months.

Like California Family Justice Centers, that reported the following benefits for children they served:
  • Self-esteem improving
  • Night terrors subsiding/going away
  • Not hitting others as much
  • Behavior improving
  • Becoming more responsible
  • Grades improving

Improving Offender Prosecution Outcomes

Like California Family Justice Centers,  where more than two-thirds of domestic violence cases filed (68%) resulted in a conviction, well above the average of roughly 50% reported in other studies of domestic violence cases, and above the 56% conviction rate identified in a study of 16 large urban counties. Just 10% of cases were dismissed, in contrast to a 33% dismissal rate for domestic violence cases in the same study of 16 large urban counties.

Like in the Nampa Family Justice Center,  where, a baseline and two-year follow up study was conducted  finding that the work undertaken through the FJC potentially led to significant increases in reporting, referral, prosecution, and sentencing of domestic violence cases.

Like The Alameda County (CA) Family Justice Center, that reported significant improvements in offender accountability through the following:
  • Increased reporting of domestic violence cases, indicating increased victim confidence in the system, which has been gained in part through colocation of advocates, services, and law enforcement/prosecution
  • Improvements in the quality of law enforcement investigations, which law enforcement and prosecution representatives directly attribute to their co-location
  • Improvements in prosecution outcomes including increases in felony filings, felony convictions, misdemeanor convictions, and reductions in case dismissals following filing
Several indicators tracked by the Alameda County District Attorney's office provide evidence for the impact of the Family Justice Center. Dismissals in felony cases dropped 40% from 2006 to 2009 (from 31% of cases to 18.68%), and dismissals for misdemeanor cases declined 65% during the same period (from 55% to 19%).

The County experienced an increase in participation on the part of the victim in domestic violence cases. According to the Alameda County District Attorney's office, "these numbers have risen significantly since the launch of the ACFJC due to the support and services provided to victims of domestic violence at the Family Justice Center."

The research base also indicates that convictions reduce domestic violence recidivism. The Alameda County District Attorney's Office saw a significant increase in conviction rates on felony domestic violence jury trials since opening the Family Justice Center.


Reducing Homicides

Like the first Family Justice Center, located in San Diego, California, that demonstrated a reduction of nearly 95% in domestic violence homicides over a 15-year period.

Like in New York City, where the City reported that as a result of its focus on the domestic violence issue including development of Family Justice Centers,  family related crimes declined by 21% and intimate partner homicides declined by 51% citywide over a six year period (2002-2008). New York City opened its first Family Justice Center in downtown Brooklyn in 2005, a second Family Justice Center in Queens in July 2008, and a third in the Bronx in 2010, a fourth in Manhattan in 2014 and a fifth in Staten Island in 2016.

Like The Alameda County (CA) Family Justice Center, that reported a dramatic drop in domestic violence homicides, from 17 cases in 2002 to 3 in 2011, a decrease concurrent with the opening and the first six-years of FJC operations, and with the establishment of effective Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Response Teams.

Like the Guilford County Family Justice Center, that in its opening year, FY 16,  reported only 1 domestic violence homicide after leading the state with the highest number of homicides the year prior (11 in FY 15). In the following years, domestic violence homicide numbers have remained low with three in FY 17, five in FY 18 and four  in FY 19.  None of the domestic violence related homicide victims from FY 16- FY 19 sought assistance from the FJC.

Like the Nashville Family Safety Center, one of the newest Family Justice Centers in the United States, that is targeting high lethality indicators such as firearm possession and history of strangulation and implementing promising practices to reduce homicides.   
  • In 2019, a few months after opening, , NFSC began daily flagging of firearms indicators on all Circuit and General Sessions OP dockets as well as Domestic Violence General Sessions Criminal Dockets and 639 or 66% of cases were flagged for firearms.
  • NFSC also began daily strangulation indicators flagging for defendants and respondents with scheduled DV criminal cases and/or Orders of Protection. Between June and December 2019, they identified 2,263, or 35%, of criminal defendants and OP respondents as stranglers. Additionally, 951, or 44% of clients that answered the Danger Assessment indicated their partner had strangled them at some point in their relationship, and 461 of those, or 48%, indicated they had been strangled to the point of unconsciousness.

Reducing Fear and Anxiety for Victims and Their Children

Like the Buncombe Family Justice Center, that reported 85% of victims surveyed after meeting with and FJC Intake Specialist reported a decreased fear and anxiety level.

Like the Nashville Family Safety Center, where clients shared their feelings about their experience with the Family Justice Center as follows:
  • 72% reported feeling nervous at entrance compared to 7 % at exit
  • 20% reporting feeling knowledgeable at entrance compared to 52% at exit
  • 25% reported feeling supported at entrance compared to 74% at exit
  • 30%  reported feeling fearful at entrance compared to 4% at exit  

Like California Family Justice Centers, where victims identified a total of 35 different ways that co-location of services was beneficial to them. The top five included: a safe and supportive environment, all-in-one location of services, legal and therapeutic services provided together, receiving needed help and information, and receiving emotional support, resulting in "a whole system approach that is greater than the sum of its parts."

Reducing Recantation and Minimization by Victims

Like the Nashville Family Safety Center where, since opening the court-based JCAC,  in 2014, there has been a 64% increase in domestic violence victims attending court for the General Sessions criminal case against their offender.

Like The Alameda County (CA) Family Justice Center that reported significant improvements in offender accountability through increased reporting of domestic violence cases, indicating increased victim confidence in the system, which was gained in part through colocation of advocates, services, and law enforcement/prosecution.

Like the Nashville Family Safety Center that provides advocacy to domestic violence victims whose high-risk offender is on probation.  In 2019, NFSC received 92 high-risk probation referrals and made contact with 46 victims on those cases to reduce communication and safety gaps between an offender's probation officer and the victim.


Increasing Efficiency among Service Providers through the Provision of Collaborative Services to Victims

Like California Family Justice Centers, where providers reported the following benefits of colocation:
  • Sharing a focus on safety across agencies
  • Less duplication of efforts
  • Increased  opportunities to deliver  services
  • Seeing a larger view of the case
  • Being able to address more complicated issues
  • Staying updated on cases
  • Better preparation of cases
  • Conducting better investigations
Like the Nashville Family Safety Center, where survey results show that the overwhelming majority of partners (90%)  found real benefit in co-location and collaboration at the Family Safety Center noting the highest rated benefits from the partnership included  greater opportunities for acquisition of knowledge about services, programs, or people in the community and an enhanced ability to meet clients' needs.

Like in the Nampa Family Justice Center  where research indicates  a high level of collaboration and problem solving. Staff surveyed report that collaboration is a most effective way to deal with the problems of domestic and dating violence, child abuse, and sexual violence resulting in better and more effective services to victims.
Interview data also suggest that teamwork is standard operating practice at the NFJC, facilitated by a common understanding among respondents of NFJC goals and collaborative problem-solving initiatives practiced in the respondents' respective agencies.

Like the Nashville Family Safety Center, that reports as  a result of co-location and increased partnerships, collaborative teams and meetings led by OFS increased substantially as well as collaborative teamwork led by partner agencies convening their meetings at the new Family Safety Center including the following:
 
  • 15 Multi-Disciplinary Teams, Taskforces or Committees at FSC
  • 186 Meetings & Events at the FSC
  • 1300 Vulnerable Adult & Elder Cases Reviewed
  • 1189 Child Abuse & Neglect Cases Reviewed
  • 974 Intimate Partner High Risk Cases Reviewed

Dramatically Increasing Community Support for the Provision of Services to Victims and Their Children

Like the Nashville Family Safety Center, that recognized the need for targeted services for helpers and supporters in an abuse victim's network.  NFSC expanded services in 2019 offering guidance on ways to help victims to 2683 total support people, an increase of 100% from the previous year. This type of programming engages the broader community to build a new culture around exposing and ending violence.

Like The Alameda County (CA) Family Justice Center, where their county, after opening the FJC, experienced a significant increase in support for family violence services in the form of increased federal, state, corporate, foundation, and individual donor support. Over $2 million dollars in new financial support for family violence services was secured, leveraging the considerable new in-kind contributions made by FJC partners estimated at over $10 million dollars annually.

Like the Nashville Family Safety Center, that reports their outreach and training program grew exponentially with the opening of the FJC. Specific reasons for growth include 1) increased awareness with the opening of the new Family Safety Center; 2) OFS providing a mandatory "Domestic Violence in the Workplace" training for Metro employees; and 3) expanded training opportunities with FSC co-located partners.




 
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