Our ProcessCharlotte-Mecklenburg is currently taking great strides to reduce violence and abuse in our community, but we must do more. The path that victims currently travel from one service provider to another can be confusing, intimidating, and dangerous, especially if they are being stalked or threatened by an abuser. Victims are retraumatized when forced to tell their story over and over to get the help they need. These inefficiencies also contribute to significant costs to our community as highlighted in the Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage Study. With the incorporation of a Family Justice Center, victims of intimate violence will have a single safe and welcoming place to come and receive services.
The InitiativeNearly 40 participants from Mecklenburg County attended the North Carolina Family Justice Center Conference in December 2017. The group was inspired by what they learned to explore the possibility of bringing a family justice center to Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
An initial steering committee was formed to lead in assessment and planning efforts including survivor representation as well as representatives from Safe Alliance, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, Pat's Place Child Advocacy Center, Mecklenburg County, the City of Charlotte, Davidson and Matthews Police Departments, the 26th Judicial District and the District Attorney's Office.
In 2018, a group of interested community members attended the National Family Justice Center Conference in April. This experience fueled the desire to bring this trauma informed co-location model to our community.
In May 2018, the Alliance for Hope led a Study Tour to help us assess the needs in the community. They prepared a Study Report which outlines their findings for our community and our readiness to create a Family Justice Center.
The Steering Committee has continually sought input from people across the county by holding 19 community forums; communicating with over 400 individuals; and distributing survivor and community partner surveys. The Alliance for Hope team reported that we had the highest survey response rate they have ever seen internationally. In September 2018, the Alliance for Hope returned to Charlotte to conduct a two day Strategic Visioning session with over 100 community members participating. Click here to see the strategic visioning report.
In February 2019, Safe Alliance and Guilford County co-led a statewide conference for community partners to come together and discuss the Family Justice Center model and Collaborative Community initiatives. Over 330 professionals from around the state were present.
During 2018-2019, the FJC Steering Committee also visited family justice center across the state and country learning about best practices for funding FJC's, integrating service providers, improving outcomes and sustaining centers overtime.
For nearly one year, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Family Justice Center Steering Committee has been working on the development of a Phase I Co-located Center, called the Survivor Resource Center. This Center is not intended to be a full Family Justice Center but will host core service providers in one location. The goal of the center will be to coordinate high risk cases and develop systems and practices that will be incorporated in the larger Family Justice Center. To learn more about the Phase I Center and how you can be involved, please click here.
While operating the Survivor Resource Center, we will also be fully engaged in planning for the full Family Justice Center. We anticipate the FJC will house over 150 core staff and also host a significant number of visiting agencies. Services will be provided for victims of domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, sexual assault and human trafficking. The steering committee is currently searching for land or a building that could be renovated in or near uptown Charlotte. We envision that the FJC will not only provide intervention services but will also be a facility utilized by the community for training, interdisciplinary teamwork and violence prevention efforts. We anticipate it will take three to four years to raise the needed funds and build or renovate a facility. Safe Alliance, Pat's Place Child Advocacy Center, and the Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage have committed to lead a capital campaign to raise private dollars and we're also requesting contributions from both Mecklenburg County and the City of Charlotte. We look forward to providing updates on this exciting initiative!