At the beginning of March, StrengthUnited visited with our local State Elected Officials and their staff in Sacramento. We went to the capital to lobby in support of a one-time 10 million dollar budget request for continued state funding for Family Justice Centers (FJC) across California, authored by Assemblymember Tim Grayson. At the moment, California is home to 24 centers, with 10 centers opening in the near future. StrengthUnited opened the first FJC in Los Angeles County and is located in Van Nuys, California.
FJC’s provide co-located wraparound services to victims/survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, elder and child abuse. In a system that privileges itself over the survivor, the experience of participating in an investigation can be further traumatizing for a child, family, or adult. The multidisciplinary response to these crimes offers an opportunity to mitigate this system-induced trauma, while simultaneously improving the experience of our clients and the outcomes of investigations. Our experience and the literature support the intersectionality between child maltreatment, domestic and sexual violence. Survivors need community support and assistance to counter the isolation and attendant violence they experience, and this has never been more true than it is today.
Due to the current circumstances with COVID-19 and Stay at Home orders, FJC’s have been tracking domestic violence murder-suicides across the country and are seeing an increase from month to month. While it is harder to track Child Maltreatment, we imagine that has also increased. We predict a large uptick in client referrals, interviews, and exams when we come out of isolation.
StrengthUnited is responding to the increasing demands and remains available to our clients, families, partners, and community and will continue to meet the needs of the community through the continuation of our 24/7 Hotline and telemedicine appointments. Our 24/7 hotline is fully staffed and ready to assist all, including those experiencing COVID-19 anxiety.
Whilst StrengthUnited was advocating for the continuation of state funding in Sacramento, we are continuing this advocacy even more fervently on the local, state, and federal levels to identify ways to help our organization respond to the current and anticipated future need of those affected by violence and abuse.
You can be a part of this advocacy by joining our mailing list, and or following StrengthUnited on social media platforms. When the time comes for you to call and advocate for Family Justice Centers and victims of crime budget requests, we will reach out.
If you wish to support the cost of operating our 24/7 hotline, please visit our crowdfunding page here: https://csunfunder.csun.edu/project/20216