Federal grant will pay to help establish a Family Justice Center that pools community resources.
ROCKFORD — The city has won a federal grant to help establish a Family Justice Center that provides assistance to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin on Monday joined U.S. Reps. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, and Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, with Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara to announce that Rockford had won a competitive $449,870 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women.
Durbin said the center could pool resources from social service providers, law enforcement, doctors, legal services and mental health professionals in a single location to help put an end to a cycle of violence. Durbin said there is ample evidence that children who experience or witness domestic and other forms of violence can grow up to become victims or abusers themselves.
In Rockford, a review of all juvenile offenders charged in 2016 and 2017 with violent crimes found that 75 percent had either grown up in a home with domestic violence or had been victims of domestic violence themselves.
“These children weren’t born into this world with a gun in their hands,” Durbin said. “They weren’t born into this world prepared to commit a crime as soon as they were able to walk. Something happened in their lives that changed their lives and changed it dramatically.”
The three-year grant will help establish the Family Justice Center, determine how disparate social service, law enforcement and other providers will work together, and determine what intake process will be used to find out what services victims need, said Jennifer Cacciapaglia, manager of the Mayor’s Office of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Prevention.
The grant will also help pay for the first 18 months of the center’s operation, Cacciapaglia said. It’s imperative to form a sustainability committee soon to identify funding sources for after the federal grant runs out in three years, she said.
“We cannot open these doors and then close them on survivors and their children,” Cacciapaglia said. “We cannot do that.”
Private donors have already raised more than $60,000 to help pay for consultants from the Alliance for Hope International to provide training, technical support and planning services to help get the center off the ground and follow best practices.
Kinzinger said the grant was an example of how Congress can work in a bipartisan fashion to accomplish shared goals.
Bustos said that during her former 17-year career as a journalist, domestic violence was among the most heartbreaking stories she tackled. She said Rockford with its partners across Winnebago County are taking the right approach to doing something about a pervasive crime and social problem.
“This is how you fight an epidemic,” Bustos said.
Posted on September 11, 2018 at 1:23 pm