Family Justice Centers are multi-agency, multidisciplinary Centers that provide services to victims of inter-personal violence including intimate partner violence, sexual assault, child abuse, elder abuse, and human trafficking. The Family Justice Center movement began in San Diego in the mid-1990’s through the vision and work of San Diego prosecutors Casey Gwinn and Gael Strack. They began co-locating police officers, prosecutors, community-based advocates, government-based advocates, civil legal service providers, and child trauma therapists in 1990 in the San Diego City Attorney’s Office (Gwinn & Strack, 2006). In 2002, their multi-agency model evolved into the nationally recognized San Diego Family Justice Center, a coordinated, co-location of 120 professionals from 25 agencies in the City of San Diego (Gwinn, Strack, Adams, et al., 2007). Casey Gwinn provided oversight to the Center as the elected City Attorney and Gael Strack served as the first Family Justice Center Director in the country in her role as an Assistant City Attorney in San Diego.
In 2003, President George W. Bush created the President’s Family Justice Center Initiative designed to open 15 federally funded Family Justice Centers, modeled after the San Diego Family Justice Center, through the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women. Then- San Diego City Attorney Casey Gwinn was asked to provide national direction and leadership to this Initiative. In 2004, Alliance for HOPE International, through its Family Justice Center Alliance program, under the leadership of Casey Gwinn and Gael Strack, began serving as a training and technical assistance provider to Family Justice Centers and similar multi-agency Centers across the United States. In 2005, Congress added Family Justice Centers to the federal Violence Against Women Act as a specialized purpose area designed to promote collaborative models of service delivery for victims of intimate partner violence and sexual assault – further promoting the Family Justice Center model across the United States.
Between 2009-2017, Blue Shield of California Foundation worked with Alliance for HOPE International to develop a network of Family Justice Centers in California. The Family Justice Center Initiative provided technical assistance, training, and funding support for operating and developing Family Justice Centers. The Initiative helped open more than fifteen new Family Justice Centers in California. In 2011, the California Legislature authorized the first study of the Family Justice Center model in a “study bill” and asked Dr. Carrie Petrucci and ABT & Associates to conduct an independent evaluation funded by Blue Shield of California Foundation (Petrucci, 2013). In 2013, the California Legislature added Family Justice Centers to state law with the passage of Penal Code Section 13750, creating definitions and standards for Family Justice Centers and similar multi-agency Centers.
This assessment, requested and funded by Blue Shield of California Foundation in 2015, utilized a pretest posttest design to assess changes in hope and wellbeing among survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault receiving services at a diverse group of seven California-based Family Justice Centers. Further, this assessment examined the relationship of hope and wellbeing to survivor defined success operationalized by successful attainment of personal goals identified by the survivors.
318 survivors provided survey data at intake and/or at a 45-60 day follow up assessment. Ultimately, 125 surveys were matched to assess changes in hope and wellbeing.