By Conrad Dudderar
EL RENO – Canadian County’s domestic violence center is open with six partner agencies already as county officials seek a large federal grant to help provide sustainability.
The public trust overseeing Cardinal Point, the county’s new domestic violence center, hopes to earn an Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) grant that would provide nearly $500,000 in operational funds over four years.
Canadian County Commissioners, at their March 22nd meeting, approved required certifications and assurances in its application for a FY21 “Improving Criminal Justice Responses to Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking” grant program. Commissioners are the lead applicant for this federal discretionary grant.
“There are only certain eligible entities that may apply,” Cardinal Point Director Kristie Chandler explained. “We have applied, and these are letters that are required for signature by the county.
“We are applying for just under $500,000 and this is a four-year grant. The amount that we asked for (if awarded) will be distributed throughout those four years.”
Cardinal Point recently opened inside a 5,000-square foot space at the Gary E. Miller Children’s Justice Center, 7905 E Hwy 66.
The center provides a safe, welcoming place to help Canadian County victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and stalking.
Canadian County Commissioners dedicated $144,195 in the 2021-22 budget as start-up “seed money” for the new family justice center.
The Cardinal Point trust is seeking outside funding sources to operate without requiring more Canadian County funds.
The almost $500,000 OVW grant request is the latest example.
“I view this as one step that moves Cardinal Point in a direction that their funding is other sources than county money,” said District 2 County Commissioner Dave Anderson, a Cardinal Point trust board member.
The purpose of the OVW grant is to continue planning and implementing Canadian County’s family justice center, Chandler explained.
“The feds, through this grant program, have a real focus on seeing people respond to these crimes collectively,” she said. “The collective impact model that we’ve established here is really a ‘good fit’.”
The District Attorney’s Office in 2020 was awarded a $213,229 Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant to help with Cardinal Point operations.
Canadian County has Oklahoma’s fourth family justice center serving domestic violence survivors in a central location.
“It’s been really great to start working with our partner agencies and meeting the needs of survivors,” Chandler told commissioners.
Cardinal Point staff has started working with partner agencies to provide services to those seeking help.
Chandler reported there are six agencies “so far” on-site:
The District Attorney’s Office, Canadian County Sheriff’s Office, CART (Child Abuse Response Team) House, Legal-Aid, and two victim service providers.
Cable and phone installation issues have delayed other agencies joining Cardinal Point.
“We hope to move the rest of the partners in the first part of April,” Chandler said. “ICAN (Intervention and Crisis Advocacy Network) has been partnering with us each day by sending an advocate over to help us with walk-ins.”
A sheriff’s office representative also has come on board.
“Last week, we had our first person who needed to be served after-hours,” Chandler reported.
The Cardinal Point trust was created in October 2020 to “administer, maintain, operate, and conduct public health and safety intervention, prevention programs and services related to domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, child abuse, elder abuse, and human trafficking for the benefit of citizens of Canadian County.”
Canadian County Commissioners serve as the trust beneficiary.
Board members of Cardinal Point’s trust are: District Attorney Mike Fields, Canadian County Undersheriff Kevin Ward, Jacqueline Steyn, Heidi Oliver, and Commissioner Anderson.
“What I like about the Cardinal Point approach is that it takes all of those people who are passionate about helping someone and gives them a place to volunteer and go and serve,” Anderson said.
Chandler was hired in August 2019 as project coordinator and Canadian County has helped fund her position through a personnel services’ agreement with the District Attorney’s Office.
She’s now Cardinal Point’s director and CEO of the Cardinal Point trust.