The often-fractured lives of East County family violence victims are further eroded by having to travel to Concord or Richmond to find comprehensive support services in one location.
But solace will soon be found locally.
The nonprofit Family Justice Center, a one-stop support network for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and child or elder abuse victims, plans to open an Antioch location in early 2019.
“Any typical family-violence victim may need to connect and navigate up to 32 different systems,” said Susun Kim, the center’s executive director. “If you are experiencing domestic violence and you are low-income, you have so many needs. The idea is that the on-site navigators are well-trained and know what kinds of services and programs are available, can connect the client to those services and can stay in contact with the client until they are safe.”
The center, with locations in Richmond and Concord, features 40 on-site public and nonprofit partners, including law enforcement and district attorney representatives, to piece together lives broken by interpersonal violence.
The free services include safety planning, housing aid, counseling and mental health assistance, restraining order help, family-law guidance and court support.
Its $1.9 million annual budget is funded through county, state and federal grants, city funds, foundations, corporations and individual donors.
“At the family justice centers, we can come together as a community collaboratively with law enforcement, prosecutors, community-based organizations, health partners, citizens and give hope,” said Dana Filkowski, supervising prosecutor of the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s domestic violence unit.
Kim said the organization is in the final stages of securing the Antioch location, with one possible spot being 2711 Hillcrest Ave., which is 15 minutes from Brentwood City Hall, 13 minutes from Oakley City Hall and about 25 minutes from Discovery Bay.
Kim said statistics show that the East County location is sorely needed.
Of the 2,442 families served in 2017 – a figure that doubled since 2015 – 127 came from Antioch, 45 from Oakley, 32 from Brentwood and 10 from Discovery Bay.
“This is going to be an asset because these issues aren’t going to go away,” said Mayor Bob Taylor. “If anything, they are probably going to grow even more as our communities grow. The object and the idea is to help people as soon as we can and get them on the right road.”
Filkowski can vouch for the benefits the center will provide.
She recounted the story of a Brentwood family broken apart when the mother chased the father and 5- and 9-year-old children down the street with a knife.
The family justice center supported the father in family court, with restraining orders, secured the children with school supplies and computers and found the family child care, Filkowski said.
“This man hugged me with tears in his eyes and said we – all of us working together – for the first time in three years gave them hope,” she said.
Hopeful stories like that will surely resonate from the East County center, Kim said.
Kim said the network of East County center nonprofits is still evolving but is expected to include: STAND, which offers family-violence prevention, intervention and treatment programs; Community Violence Solutions, providing support services to child and adult sexual assault victims and their families; and domestic violence and elder abuse advocacy and support organizations.
Like the Concord and Richmond locations, the Antioch center will connect visitors with skilled navigators to secure their safety and determine individualized needs and solutions.
Once basic needs are met, navigators will offer long-term self-sufficiency services to secure independence.
Kim and Filkowski are hopeful that law enforcement agencies and district attorney representatives will also co-locate at the center to create a complete victim service facility where visitors can meet with law enforcement and then immediately be ushered to a navigator.
“We look forward to providing the same type and level of services in East County as we have done in the Central and West Counties,” Kim said.
It’s expected that the Antioch center will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and serve victims by appointment and on a walk-in basis.
The center’s Concord location is located at 2151 Salvio St., Suite 201.
For more information, visit www.cocofamilyjustice.org.