DA’s Office seeks grant for family justice center

Summer opening eyed for facility to help domestic violence survivors

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A renovation project is underway at the Canadian County Children’s Justice Center, 7905 E Highway 66, the future site of the county’s family justice center to help domestic violence survivors. The District Attorney’s Office is seeking grant funds to help launch the new facility, which is expected to open this summer in leased space inside the CCJC. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar

Senior Staff Writer

A second large federal grant is being sought to kick start a new Canadian County facility that will help domestic violence survivors.
The Canadian County District Attorney’s Office on March 6 applied for a Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant.

Some $235,761 has been requested through this grant, which would help support a new family justice center due to open this summer inside the Canadian County Children’s Justice Center in El Reno.
The funds requested are for two family justice center staff, rent, equipment, and supplies necessary to operate survivor services.
The purpose of the VOCA grant is to provide direct services to victims of crime, according to family justice center project coordinator Kristie Chandler.
Services are defined as those efforts that:
* respond to the emotional and physical needs of crime victims;
* assist primary and secondary victims of crime to stabilize their lives after a victimization;
* assist victims to understand and participate in the criminal justice system; and
* provide the victims of crime with a measure of safety and security.
VOCA funding has supported family justice center projects across the country and in Oklahoma. VOCA funding is administered by the District Attorney’s Council through its Victims Division.
“We believe the Canadian County family justice center project aligns with the purpose areas of VOCA as we promote health and safety for victims and accountability for offenders,” Chandler said.
This will be accomplished through a multi-disciplinary model to strengthen the collaborative and coordinated criminal justice and civil system response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and child abuse in Canadian County.
Coordinated services will include adult and child victim advocacy, law enforcement, prosecution, health, mental health, civil legal aid, and other social services.
Canadian County’s family justice center – which has yet been officially named – will occupy leased space inside the CCJC, 7905 E Highway 66. The future location is now being remodeled.
“At this time, our understanding is the construction at the Children’s Justice Center will be finished this summer,” Chandler said. “We hope to open soon after construction is complete.”

Canadian County’s family justice center will provide a centralized place where domestic violence survivors can choose from various services to help them.

The facility will foster a community of support for domestic violence survivors, reduce or eliminate the trauma associated with victims’ involvement with law enforcement and the criminal justice system, and better hold offenders accountable.

GRANTS HELP FUND CENTER

The VOCA grant is the second grant submitted for Canadian County’s family justice center project.

In late January, Chandler applied for a $500,000 federal grant (over three years) to help launch Canadian County’s family justice center. That application was for an Improving Criminal Justices Responses to Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking Grant.

That grant would cover the family justice center director’s salary, equipment and other needs.

Kristie Chandler

Chandler, along with members of Canadian County’s family justice center steering committee, will continue to explore sources of funding to implement and sustain this new facility.
“We are motivated by the support of survivors, partner agencies, and other stakeholders in Canadian County who have reinforced the need and desire to have a family justice center in our community,” Chandler said. “And we remain hopeful that we will secure the funding necessary for the project.”

Assistant District Attorney Tommy Humphries greatly anticipates the new family justice center’s debut this summer at the CCJC.

“As long as these funded sources come in, we’ll open the door to the family justice center as soon as they are cleared to let someone in the space,” Humphries said. “If we’re awarded anything close to what we asked for with these two grants, this will be a great start. We’ll have three employees; we’ll have the equipment that we need and the space that we need.”

Canadian County will have Oklahoma’s fourth family justice center; the others are in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Shawnee.

This new facility still awaits a formal name.

“We’ve had meetings with SprayCan (Creative) and they’re still working on a name for us,” Humphries said. “We hope to have that soon.”