ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The 17th Judicial Circuit Court has earned national recognition.

The U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women selected the local circuit to serve as a “Domestic Violence Mentor Court” for the third time.

It is one of only five courts to receive the honor.

“We are proud to serve as a national example of how the court system can handle domestic violence cases,” said Nicole Ticknor, deputy court administrator for Winnebago County.

Ticknor said that this is a two-fold effort.

“For us to be able to share the practices that have worked for us is exciting, and really to watch judges mentor other judges and court staff mentor other staff, you know, we hope that people can take what works from them and learn from us,” Ticknor said. “But, I also think it’s really rewarding for us as a system because we learn from each community we visit as well.”

Ticknor said this is something that the local court is passionate about. Collaboration is key to the Circuit’s success.

“We work closely with the people that our partners, within our court, whether it’s victim advocacy, agencies or the clerk’s office, the police departments, you know, we all, even though we’re separate parts of the system, we all have to come together to address this crime appropriately,” Ticknor said.

The recognition comes with $150,000, which is used to train and provide guidance and assistance to other court interested in setting up a domestic violence court model.

While this award goes out to well-established domestic violence courts, the 17th Circuit is constantly adjusting as the community changes.

“There’s always work to do, but we should feel proud that we are doing a good job and that we are trying hard to address these issues as a court system,” Ticknor said.

The 17th Circuit has helped guide courts from Tennessee and Arkansas in the past, as well as other throughout Illinois. It will serve for two years as a “Domestic Violence Mentor Court.”

If you are a survivor of domestic or sexual violence, visit our Stateline Strong page for resources.