“Fast-Food,” One-Stop Family Justice Centers hit San Diego 2002, Oakland, and London, in 2007 . . .
Faster than the speed of light: one man’s retirement plan becomes the playground of agencies and nonprofits, dispensing, dispensing — say, What are they dispensing, again? Besides contracts to their Executive Directors:
Wow — why do bad ideas travel fastest? And don’t even bother mating before they replicate?
This is certainly one:
Unbelievable: I was looking up one San Diego organization’s name, & Casey Gwinn’s name, and found out that the UK has caught the Alliance Virus…
Thursday 01 February 2007 00:00
It was a busy first 10 months for Europe’s first family justice centre where 32 agencies work together under one roof to help victims of domestic violence. Josephine Hocking looks at what makes it unique
It is difficult to imagine a place where domestic violence victims can seek help from 32 agencies under the same roof.
But such a service is running in the London Borough of Croydon where the family justice centre’s mission is to reduce violence and death.
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I guess dispensing “Justice” just pre-empted stopping wars.
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It opened in December 2005 and helped 3,000 families in its first 10 months.
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Define “helped.” Is this like the ones in San Diego helped their own employees? Or the one in Northern California helped a relative of some head honchos to the position of Executive Director, thereafter likely exaggerating figures of “People helped”??
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The stated aim is to assist 14,000 children and 7,000 adults each year.
Professionals at the family justice centre include an on-call duty and assessment social work service, advocates, police, solicitors, housing officers, Women’s Aid, Victim Support, debt and benefits advisers, and probation staff.
The number of agencies is set to rise to 40, boosting the number of staff from the current 112. All are employed and managed by their own organisations, using existing resources. Referrals come from professionals or direct from service users.
A partnership between Croydon’s council, police and primary care trust, the centre is the first of its kind in Europe and was inspired by a US project (see “In the Beginning”).
Croydon’s social services director, Hannah Miller, is enthusiastic about the centre and is pleased it is on her patch. Her department provides the duty and assessment social work service.
Miller says it would be a poor use of resources to base a qualified social worker full time at the centre, as many seeking help do not need social work input. So she has allocated dedicated social work time and management. Social workers visit the centre regularly and attend case conferences. More social workers can be called on when necessary, and promise to arrive at the centre within 20 minutes of being contacted. The arrangement works well.
The multi-agency working practised at the centre is an idea that many aspire to but clashing professional cultures often preclude this. One way to resolve this is to make them sit side by side.
Jill Maddison, the centre’s director, says: “When professionals really work together you appreciate and understand what others can and can’t do. Social workers might moan they can never get hold of the police and wonder why an officer isn’t answering his phone. But when you can walk over to his desk and see he’s busy in the interview room with a suspect, that’s helpful.”
Maddison’s advice to social workers supporting families experiencing domestic violence is “don’t work on your own”. More can be achieved with a multi-agency approach.
The idea originated in the US. Lawyer Casey Gwinn’s vision led to the opening of the world’s first family justice centre in San Diego, California. He says the reason it was never previously attempted is that “agencies couldn’t get along”.
“The biggest problem is one of power and control from those agencies that see us as a threat.”
Maddison is not surprised that agencies can obstruct each other: “The voluntary and community sector are encouraged to compete for funds and work. It is not in their best interests to co-operate.”
Commander Steve Allen of the Metropolitan Police is a vociferous backer of the centre, telling a recent conference: “The model produces a coherent response. Otherwise agencies do struggle with each other. I have seen a lack of action due to people arguing about whose name is on the poster and who will get the credit. People are dying while that goes on. It has to stop.”
Modest and intensely focused, Maddison is highly regarded by colleagues in the borough and beyond. She trained as a social worker but never worked as one. She has been in the domestic violence field, in the UK and the US for 18 years, in roles including family lawyer, therapist and policy adviser. At Croydon Council, she was asked to find solutions to tackle the borough’s domestic violence problem.
Five adults and three children were murdered in domestic violence-related incidents in the borough in 2004-5. The centre opened in December 2005 and there were no domestic violence-related murders or child deaths in 2006.
Maddison’s energy and commitment have kept the centre on course during an exhausting first year. Her persistence was exemplified by her policy on information-sharing. Conventional practice dictated that the centre’s 32 agencies could not easily share information. But Maddison saw that as a hindrance to successful outcomes.
She says: “I read many lengthy documents on information-sharing but the solution was simple. We ask our clients if they will agree to information-sharing. We explain that it will help us to help them. We’ve only had one refusal so far.” However, child protection concerns can override this freedom to exchange information.
But establishing the centre has been a slog. “The idea is simple. But setting up and running a family justice centre is not easy. The first year is the hardest,” she admits.
Then there is the constant proximity to intense suffering. “It affects me, yes,” she says, “no wonder, when I see children either rigid with fear or racing about knocking things over because of what they’ve been through.”
A highlight of the centre’s first year for staff and service users were lunches for survivors. “Seeing 120 happy families in one room, who are now safe, is amazing,” she says. “My staff benefited from seeing the good effect of their work. Before, we were patching up bad situations now we are stopping the violence. Our approach does not get quick results, but it works.”
In the beginning (back)
The world’s first family justice centre – “where families come first and professionals come together” – opened in San Diego, California, in 2002, under the leadership of lawyer Casey Gwinn. His vision was to be a one-stop shop so that people seeking help did not have to trek between agencies.
Today 27 organisations work out of the centre, and deal with 1,100 families each month.
“Previously, systems were designed for the benefit of service providers,” says Gwinn, volunteer chief executive at San Diego. “Now we run services to suit our clients. They ask what took us so long to do it that way.”
At San Diego none of the 23,000 clients seeking services since 2002 have died. Another important outcome is that more cases are going to court.
Family justice centres are big news in the US. The San Diego centre appeared twice on Oprah Winfrey’s TV show, a major boost in helping spread the word.
President Bush has backed the idea with an initiative that included funding. Today 20 family justice centres are open in the US, with more planned.
In the UK, many local authorities are pursuing the idea but Croydon is the only one running with it so far.
NORTHERN CALIFORNIA’S, SELF-DESCRIBED @ 2009:
When it was founded, the Alameda Family Justice Center was only the second such center in the nation, but within the last few years other counties have begun to copy this model. Funded by the District Attorney’s office, public grants and private gifts, the FJC has helped county attorneys prepare better domestic violence cases for trial. It has also eased social service providers’ efforts to help victims with psychological counseling, job training and onsite childcare. More than 7,000 people—a majority of whom are women with children—have used the center this year.
Define “used” — called for help? Stepped inside the doors? Accessed a website?
All in one place…
The Family Justice Center’s primary innovation has been bringing police, the District Attorney’s Office, and social service agencies all to an office on Oakland’s 27th Street between Broadway and Telegraph Avenue.
“Over the last year or so, we have seen an increase in clients’ repeated visits for varying services,” said Nadia Davis-Lockyer, the center’s executive director. “Not due to new incidents of family violence, but due to their realizing that additional services beyond immediate crisis intervention can help them achieve a happy and healthy home. Wherever you’re at, however you want to proceed, when you walk in our door, we can help you.
In addition, more than 3,000 restraining orders are issued in Alameda County every year, meaning that, on average, nine times every day the county determines someone can no longer be trusted to be in the same space as his or her former spouse or partner.
This implies civil restraining orders with kickout, not criminal with prosecution and serious incarceration JUST THINK! None of these can be required to get enforced (see my “What Decade Were These Stories? post). Then, the offended (kicked out) partner can go a few blocks away to a superior court and request immediate custody of any children, and thereafter it’s no longer this Justice Center’s problem, from what I can tell/have heard. This is called Justice ping pong.
Randy White, the Oakland police officer who serves as a subject matter expert for the domestic violence unit at the Family Justice Center, said these numbers translate into victims coming into the center on a regular basis. “Almost every few hours, every day, someone comes in here requesting services because they were a victim of a rape or domestic violence,” he said.
Which just goes to show you how well spent the Healthy Marriage / Responsible Fatherhood funds have been, over the past FIVE Presidential administrations…
In the 1970s, the domestic violence movement started in garages and people’s homes,” said Raeanne Passantino, the center’s assistant director. “This new movement makes a huge difference for clients, who can get many services at one time.”
Oh, I thought they were into “Justice.” … Well, this “new” (it’s not a new idea, just a new application of an old– centralize & control) movement makes a huge difference for many service providers who can access several clients in one place.
Word of good business plans among politicians and public employees does indeed spread fast:
The model has worked well enough that other counties are following suit. Over the last few years, Family Justice Centers have started up in San Jose, Fresno, and other cities around the country. Officials from several California counties, including Contra Costa and Solano, have visited Alameda County’s center site in recent months with an eye toward creating their own centers. “It’s a model that is being reproduced all over,” Bates said.
Funny — were any clients interviewed in this piece? I cannot do it sufficient justice, although see my previous Dubious Doings By District Attorneys post, in which I quote a “Steve White” (never met the guy..), who I see is right on it here. … APpropriately so, too. This is MSM at its “best” — and if I had time, I’d look up the background of every single person interviewed here, above. Oakland has one of the highest homicide rates in the country (4th or 5th, last I heard) and I know that man of those include DV deaths, with or without “restraining orders” on.
The San Diego “Family Justice Center” appears to have been Casey Gwinn’s personal retirement plan. Others have quickly caught on — but then again, conflicts of interest in nonprofits getting referral business from the courts isn’t exactly a new concept. Nor is nepotism or cronyism, which to me, this sounds like more of. They issue restraining orders — which no woman can require to be enforced, nor is she guaranteed any remedies if failure to enforce results in death to children. Generally speaking. I doubt that this is on the FAQ sheet going in the front door. Despite the word “Family” all over the place, I saw no mention of the extensive “family law” system or “Family court Facilitator’s Offices” where clients with kids will likely end up sooner of later. Not their problem. …
Why THINK when one can just LINK?
From the Partners & Sponsors website of the home Family Justice Center page:
Partners and Sponsors
With almost 60 Centers in operation and over 100 Family Justice Centers in the planning stages in the United States and the around the world, the National Family Justice Center Alliance is honored to be working with the following agencies to identify topics and speakers for our annual Conference.
A Call to Men
American Domestic Violence Crisis Line
American Prosecutors Research Institute
Battered Women’s Justice Project
California Partnership To End Domestic Violence
The California Endowment
Chadwick Center for Children & Families, Rady Children’s Hospital
Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence
Dress For Success
European Union Family Justice Center Alliance
Family Violence Prevention Fund
Feminist Majority Foundation
FJC Legal Network
Forensic Healthcare Consulting
Gavin de Becker & Associates
Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community
Mental Health Systems, Inc.
National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
National Criminal Justice Reference Service
National District Attorneys Association
National Network to End Domestic Violence
Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, United States Department of Justice
Office on Violence Against Women, United States Department of Justice
Prosecutors’ Resource on Violence Against Women
Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network
Relationship Training Institute
San Diego Domestic Violence Council
Sexual Assault Family Violence Investigator Course
Taiwan Association of Social Workers
The Verizon Foundation
YWCA San Diego
Working together, the International Family Justice Center conference is rapidly becoming:
- The primary training venue and learning exchange opportunity for professionals working in Family Justice Centers
- One of the best conferences for substantive training on domestic violence, sexual assault, children exposed to violence, and elder abuse.
- The gathering place for academics, practitioners, policy makers, and national leaders to set the course for the future of the Family Justice Center Movement
And in fact, for just about anyone except those affected by these policies.