SAN DIEGO - Throughout the U.S., survivors of domestic violence and their children will receive new and more effective services -- thanks to a $1 million grant from the Verizon Foundation to the National Family Justice Center Alliance.
The grant, announced Friday (April 4), establishes the Family Justice Center Institute, a technology and training arm within the National Family Justice Center Alliance. The center will use technology and best practices to streamline service and provide training for employees and volunteers.
"Through the Family Justice Center model, we bring together a host of services under one roof to make it easier for domestic violence survivors and their children to receive the assistance they need," said Casey Gwinn, co-founder of the National Family Justice Center Alliance. "Our partnership with Verizon will allow us to develop a system to streamline our efforts and ensure that survivors at all Family Justice Center locations across America receive the help they need quickly."
The grant will be used to develop systems that:
- Allow multiple agencies within a Family Justice Center to quickly and securely share information - so that victims will have to tell their story only once, rather than repeatedly conveying their traumatic experiences to various social, medical, legal and public safety professionals.
- Create protocols for the development of electronic "safety deposit boxes" - helping domestic violence survivors to keep important documents secure.
- Develop online training for Family Justice Center employees and volunteers nationwide - enabling them to share information, attend online courses and learn best practices.
- Link the management systems of five pilot Family Justice Centers - creating consistency and information-sharing models among these centers, which will be selected during the grant period.
- Assess technology needs - to evaluate practical uses of online client resources, text messaging and video messaging to support Family Justice Center employees and clients.
Verizon has been a longtime supporter of Family Justice Centers across the country, beginning with a Verizon Wireless HopeLine(r) grant to the San Diego Family Justice Center in 2002.
"Verizon Wireless was proud to be the first business to award a grant to develop the first Family Justice Center in the nation right here in San Diego," said John Palmer, region president, Verizon Wireless. "Now that this city's dream is a reality and has spread to more than two dozen other major cities, the service delivery challenges facing these centers are of a national dimension. Today's grant is a critical first step toward meeting those challenges head-on and better serving victims of abuse everywhere through the use of technology and best practices."
State Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, said the partnership between Verizon and the Family Justice Center Alliance is a stellar example of the great work that can be accomplished when the private sector collaborates with public agencies to address a social issue. Kehoe was one of the earliest supporters of the Family Justice Center vision during her tenure as a San Diego City Council member in the late 1990's.
"The San Diego Family Justice Center proved for its first five years of operation [2002-2007] what partnerships between the government, community agencies and the business community can do to save lives," Kehoe said. "With Verizon's support, the Family Justice Center Alliance now has the opportunity to use San Diego's example and lessons learned here to help victims and their children across the country."
Raising awareness of domestic violence and aiding in its prevention is a key focus of the Verizon Foundation. In 2007, the foundation awarded more than $5.5 million in grants to aid in domestic violence prevention.
"Through this grant, the National Family Justice Center Alliance will be able to make better use of technology to continue to provide quick and needed service to victims of domestic violence," said Tim McCallion, West region president, Verizon. "We are proud to partner with the Family Justice Center Alliance on such a worthy project."
Verizon Foundation President Patrick Gaston added: "Domestic violence is an issue that touches us all. Statistics show that one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
"The creation of the Family Justice Center Institute can be part of the solution, enabling survivors to quickly and compassionately receive the assistance they need to help create a better tomorrow for them and their children."
About the National Family Justice Center Alliance
The National Family Justice Center Alliance provides training and technical assistance to existing and developing Family Justice Centers in the United States and around the world. The Alliance serves as the official technical assistance provider to the United States Department of Justice to provide support to all federally funded Family Justice Centers. It also hosts an annual International Family Justice Center Conference each year with attendees from across the globe. The Alliance focuses on developing and profiling best practices for co-located service facilities known as Family Justice Centers where victims of domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, and sexual assault can come to one location to receive all necessary services. The Family Justice Center model was first developed in San Diego, California, but has now been replicated in rural, suburban, and urban communities around the United States and in Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, England and Jordan. The model has been hailed as a best practice by the United States Department of Justice and has been widely credited with playing a major role in the 90% drop in domestic violence homicides in the City of San Diego since 1985. For more information, visit www.familyjusticecenter.org.
About the Verizon Foundation
The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, supports the advancement of literacy and K-12 education through its signature program, Thinkfinity.org, and fosters awareness and prevention of domestic violence. In 2007, the foundation awarded more than $67.4 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the United States and abroad. The foundation also matched the charitable donations of Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in $25.1 million in combined contributions. Through Verizon Volunteers, one of the nation's largest employee volunteer programs, Verizon employees and retirees have volunteered more than 3 million hours of community service since Verizon's inception in 2000.
For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizon.com/foundation.
About Verizon Communications
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving nearly 66 million customers nationwide. Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network. A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of nearly 235,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of $93.5 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.