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Family Justice Center in the Works in Light of High Domestic Violent Crime Rates

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The City of Rockford steps up its game to combat domestic violence.  Representatives from police and social service agencies will work together under one roof.  This will allow victims to get help all in one place.  City leaders and advocates want to try a completely new way to prevent them.  They say building a center dedicated to victims and families in crisis is a good start.

“We really hope it’ll help break the cycle of violence.” 17th Circuit Court Judge Rosemary Collins is talks about a new collaborative initiative with the City of Rockford Mayor’s office to build a Family Justice Center in Rockford.  “When people are affected by violence in their families, they need to go to several difference agencies to try and find the help they need.”

The Family Justice Center would house centralized aid from several law enforcement and social services agencies.  It would included Rockford Police and the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department.  It will also provide job skill development programs and various forms of therapy for children.  

“It’s some place a survivor can come with their children and get wrap around services and holistic care to restore them,” said Jennifer Caccipaglia Manager of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Department in the Mayor’s Office.  She says now is the time to build something new for an increasingly serious problem in the community.  “It is the best practice that we have to recognize as a community, that we are at a critical point when we’re talking about domestic and sexual violence in our town.”

According to the City of Rockford, in terms of overall violent crime, 23.5% of it was domestic related back in 2015. In 2016, that number went up to 26.4%. Last year, it was 29.2%. So far in 2018, it’s 34.1%, that’s roughly one out of every three violent crimes.

Caccipaglia says now is the time to act.  “We have to start looking at new initiatives and this is our best identified practice,” said Caccipaglia.

Leaders are hoping a federal grant for $450,000 will be able to cover the start-up cost, which includes extensive planning and leasing a space for organizers to gather in for three years. Hon. Collins says it will all be worth it in the end.

“By having those people available in a location they can easily access, then we can change the lives of these children and that’s what it’s all about,” said Hon. Collins.

The federal grant has been submitted and will find out if the grant was awarded in October. The entire cost for the Family Justice Center will likely be upwards of $30 million.  As of right now, there isn’t a proposed location for the project.

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