By Makena Huey
A $1 million grant from the state will help fund an Oxnard branch of the Ventura County Family Justice Center.
Officials say it will be a much-needed resource for Oxnard residents, who’ve made up roughly 40% of the more than 4,000 people who’ve sought services at the justice center’s Ventura location since it opened nearly two years ago.
The center helps survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, elder abuse, child abuse, human trafficking, and hate crimes.
During a Nov. 5 ceremony, Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks) announced the state grant for the center, which she said has done “truly amazing” work.
Irwin, along with state Sen. Monique Limón, whose district includes Oxnard, allocated the funding through the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
The cities of Oxnard and Port Hueneme also pledged $1 million each for the project.
Irwin told The Acorn she was dedicated to helping the center assist underserved populations.
“As elected officials—and then even personally—we often heard stories about a woman that was a victim of domestic violence or kids that were in a violent situation, and there was no comprehensive place to send them,” she said. “That was a big frustration.”
The Family Justice Center, she said, not only makes a difference in the lives of survivors but also in the lives of their children.
“It’s not just about helping the women of this generation,” she said. “You really can put a stop to the next generation repeating the (cycle of violence).”
Many of the Oxnard residents who seek the center’s services are Latinx. District Attorney Erik Nasarenko told the Acorn the satellite office will focus on assisting Spanish- and Mixtec-speaking community members in a “linguistically and culturally sensitive way,” especially since many may not trust the government.
“Being near a Family Justice Center where there are providers who speak their language and know their culture and take the time to build rapport will really, I believe, break down some of that mistrust and some of those barriers,” he said.
Other essential services, such as counseling, support groups, and help with restraining orders, will also be offered.
The county, Nasarenko said, is interested in a building near downtown Oxnard and plans to open the new center next year.
“I feel confident that we will have the site up and running in 2022,” he said.