To celebrate and commemorate the Junior League of Birmingham's 100th Anniversary, we will provide One Place Metro Alabama Family Justice Center the lead gift to acquire and remodel a space for operations. The commitment to One Place is a minimum of $1.25 million over the next 5 years.
This effort kicked off in 2017 in partnership with 20 Torchbearers who have passed their torches to a new set of committed advocates in 2018. And the cycle will continue until we reach our zenith in 2022 with the success of 100 Torchbearers and their supporters.
The One Place Metro Alabama Family Justice Center is a new center providing coordinated services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault through a team of agency professionals who work together under one roof. Currently service agencies include: The Jefferson County District Attorney's Office, YWCA Central Alabama, Crisis Center, Inc. - Rape Response Program, and the Birmingham Police Department. One Place offers forensic nursing for victims of sexual assault, civil and criminal legal counseling, emergency housing placement, job placement, public benefits assistance and safety planning.
Family Justice Centers: A Proven Model
Family Justice Centers are a multi-disciplinary team of professonals who work together, under one roof, to provide coordinated services to victims of Domestic Violence. Family Justice Centers are specifically defined in federal law and refer to the co-location of staff members from multiple agencies under one roof.
The Family Justice Center approach is based on the San Diego Family Justice Center model, which opened in 2002. The National Family Justice Center Alliance now helps communities develop such centers across the United States and around the world. The Family Justice Center model has been identified as a best practice in the field of domestic violence intervention and prevention services by the United States Department of Justice.
Each year, law enforcement agencies around the world respond to alarming incidents of domestic violence. The prevalence of family violence is even more alarming when one considers that experts estimate that only 25 percent of such cases are actually reported.
Victims often fail to report domestic violence because of love, fear, religious beliefs, threats to children, lack of money or resources, or simply not knowing that help is available. Most criminal and civil justice systems make it difficult for victims to seek help and unintentionally wear them down. Victims are often required to travel from location to location to seek services that are scattered through a community or region.
Victims also have to tell their story over and over again to officials representing agencies, such as, law enforcement, courts, legal aid, medical, transportation, housing, social services, mental health, rehabilitation, financial assistance, and many more. The criminal justice system unintentionally makes it easy for victims to become frustrated and ultimately stop seeking help. The Family Justice Center model have included: 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.
I'll never forget the day we received a phone call inviting us into a conversation between One Place and the JLB. I’m not sure what was more exciting—that initial call, or the conversations that followed with each of our One Place agency partners as we outlined the possibilities and began to let it sink in…that this was a game-changer for our community.
By investing in One Place, the JLB is enhancing the way that victims access existing services in our community. We know that, for many whom we serve, the clock is ticking. As we have learned, sometimes it is literally a life or death situation. If a victim or survivor has only one chance to get one place for safety and support, there must be as many necessary resources on hand in one location for support. With this gift, the Junior League is making that possible.
It is truly a privilege to be in partnership—and friendship—on this journey to create a permanent home for One Place.
- Allison Dearing, Executive Director, One Place Metro Alabama Family Justice Center