New S.J. Fam­ily Jus­tice Cen­ter ready to help vic­tims in need

Lodi News-Sentinel - - LOCAL/NATION - By Wes Bow­ers

STOCK­TON — Vic­tims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, sex­ual as­sault, hu­man traf­fick­ing, child and el­der abuse now have place to go that will make their process through the jus­tice sys­tem sim­ple and easy.

The San Joaquin County Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s Of­fice of­fi­cially opened the doors of its Fam­ily Jus­tice Cen­ter on Wed­nes­day morn­ing, a “on­estop shop” where vic­tims of such crimes will be guided through the proper chan­nels for help and re­sources.

Lo­cated on the first floor of the old San Joaquin County Court­house at 222 E. We­ber Ave., pro­gram man­ager Suzanne Schultz said the Fam­ily Jus­tice Cen­ter is a project two years in the mak­ing.

The Fam­ily Jus­tice Cen­ter ini­tially opened on the fifth floor of the old court­house, in the D.A.’s Of­fice, in 2016. How­ever, the cen­ter dealt only with crim­i­nal jus­tice vic­tims, Schultz said.

“We had to wait for the courts to move into the new build­ing be­fore we could move in here,” she said. “This is phase two, and we’re ex­pand­ing to bring in more part­ners.”

Those part­ners in­clude the Stock­ton Po­lice Depart­ment, Vic­tim Wit­ness, the San Joaquin County Sher­iff ’s Of­fice, Be­hav­ioral Health Ser­vices, the Hu­man Ser­vices Agency, the Child Abuse Preven­tion Coun­cil, Women’s Cen­ter-Youth & Fam­ily Ser­vices, the San Joaquin County Of­fice of Ed­u­ca­tion and Depart­ment of Child Sup­port Ser­vices.

If a vic­tim is re­ferred to the Fam­ily Jus­tice Cen­ter, Schultz said they will walk through the dou­ble doors of the “Jus­tice Wing” and let an ad­vo­cate know why they are there.

They will then watch a short video in­tro­duc­tion, pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion on all the re­sources the cen­ter has to of­fer be­fore meet­ing with a Stock­ton po­lice of­fi­cer or sher­iff ’s deputy.

Af­ter an in­take and in­ter­view pe­riod, the vic­tim will then be guided to the proper rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the other part­ners at the cen­ter for help and guid­ance.

For ex­am­ple, if a woman has been the vic­tim of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, she can come to the cen­ter, speak with law en­force­ment, and then be di­rected to the Hu­man Ser­vices Agency or Women’s Cen­ter-Youth & Fam­ily Ser­vices, all af­ter walk­ing through one set of doors.

“That’s re­ally the key to all this,” Schultz said. “It’s one set of doors. We are not go­ing to re­fer any­one out­side our doors. You come to us, you fill out one form so you don’t have to tell your story over and over.”

The cen­ter is not just win­dows and desks, though. In­ter­view rooms are fur­nished in the style of fam­ily or liv­ing rooms found at home, and there are spe­cial rooms for chil­dren to play games, read books or draw, color and paint while mom or dad speak with Jus­tice Cen­ter ad­vo­cates.

“We wanted this whole space to be com­pletely dif­fer­ent,” Schultz said. “This isn’t some­thing you see in gov­ern­ment. We wanted to take that whole (gov­ern­ment) feel­ing away be­cause it’s not con­ducive to com­fort.”

There is also a “Come­back Kid Class­room” where vic­tims of all ages can par­tic­i­pate in an ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram to earn their high school di­ploma and be on their way to seek­ing em­ploy­ment, all in part­ner­ship with the SJCOE.

If a client com­pletes the ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram, they can then browse through laun­dered, do­nated clothes avail­able through the “Suc­cess Bou­tique” for at­tire they can wear to job in­ter­views.

In ad­di­tion, the San Joaquin Re­gional Tran­sit Dis­trict has part­nered with the pro­gram, pro­vid­ing vic­tims with bus passes to get to and from the cen­ter if no other trans­porta­tion is avail­able, Schultz said.

Those who come to the cen­ter could be do­mes­tic vi­o­lence vic­tims re­ferred from San Joaquin Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal or a lo­cal high school, she said, or even from a lo­cal busi­ness that has no­ticed an em­ployee has come to work one day with a black eye.

“Don’t think you are alone,” Schultz wants vic­tims to know. “There are a lot of us here that care about you and your fam­ily, and we’re all to­gether, ready to serve you.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.