The Westchester Family Justice Center will be around for another three years thanks to a $900,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.
County officials met at the White Plains Public Library Tuesday morning to announce that federal funding for the Justice Center has been renewed.
Formed in 2010 through an earlier federal grant, the Family Justice Center is program that offers information and services to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking through a network of other organizations in the county. The grant will be doled out to the Justice Center annually in $300,000 increments.
Partners of the Family Justice Center include county Probation, the county District Attorney’s Office, Hope’s Door, My Sister’s Place, Victims Assistance Services of WestCOP, Pace Women’s Justice Center, Legal Services of the Hudson Valley, Empire Justice Center and the county Department of Social Services.
“Prior to 2010 when the Family Justice Center came into being, victims had to figure it out themselves and navigate a complicated, intimidating and piecemeal system,” Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino said in statement. “Today, the Family Justice Center acts as a hub. Victims need to make just one call or walk through just one door and we will be with them every step along the way. With these funds, we will be able to continue to protect domestic violence victims and victim’s families, prevent future violence and hold offenders accountable.”
The Justice Center, located inside the county court complex in White Plains, has staff of six people. It has served more than 1,500 victims of domestic violence and trained nearly 1,600 healthcare providers and police officers on domestic violence issues.
Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore said domestic violence cases are challenging because the crimes are committed by people know to the victim.
“The Family Justice Center gives us a tool to support these victims,” DiFiore said in statement. “By bundling services in one location, victims can receive the legal and emotional support that they need to navigate the criminal justice system, which is why the federal funding is critical in allowing the center to continue to assist Westchester residents in need."
Graciela Heymann, executive director of the Westchester Hispanic Coalition, praised the courage and the caring that has been exhibited by Astorino’s staff by fully engaging with Latino advocates, partners and providers.
“Access to justice is a beautiful thing, but access to justice for immigrants is the true beginning of the American Dream,” Heymann said. “As an advocate and a partner with the Family Justice Center, I see that lives are being transformed and I’m happy to play a supporting role.”
Said Alan D. Sheinkman, administrative judge for the Ninth Judicial District: “The Westchester Family Just Center is vital to helping victims of domestic violence get the help they need and the justice they deserve. I am delighted that this successful program is being continued.”Domestic violence awareness month is recognized each year in October. A list of programs scheduled for domestic violence awareness month is available here.