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City receives federal grant for Family Justice Center

Staff Report

ROCKFORD –  The City of Rockford is one step closer to establishing a Family Justice Center, as three federal lawmakers joined Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara in the fight against domestic violence.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17) and U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-16) on Monday announced that the city has received $449,870 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women.

The grant will allow Rockford to establish have an actual plan to realize the center to provide comprehensive services to aid victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.

“I am proud to announce that Rockford has received this federal funding to establish a Family Justice Center,” Durbin said. “This victim-centered approach is critical to reducing trauma and providing survivors and their families with the tools and resources they need to heal and move forward with their lives. I will work with my colleagues to ensure that the federal government continues to fund vital grants like the one we’re announcing today.”

Bustos said the community has a responsibility to eliminate domestic violence and that the Family Justice Center is a meaningful step forward.

“When a survivor is going through the worst moment in their life, getting help should be straightforward and simple, she said. “By putting all of the resources needed to help people in one location, we’ll make a real difference in the lives of countless families.”

The Family Justice Center (FJC) will provide services in a single location to access resources and services. FJCs bring together law enforcement personnel, medical providers, prosecutors, social service representatives, and mental health professionals in a single location to provide victim-centered services to survivors and their families.

“Domestic violence accounts for one third of Rockford’s violent crime and I’ve made it a priority of my administration to reduce the impact this has on our community,” McNamara said. “The support of our federal legislators is vital to help us and we appreciate the work they did on our behalf to help secure this vital funding.”

Rockford will use the grant to establish a strategic planning committee to oversee the implementation of the Family Justice Center; implement a multi-agency collaborative center that serves victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and human trafficking; implement protocols to ensure sex-trafficking victims are identified and referred for services; establish workgroups to implement the strategic planning committee’s plan; and support both a Family Justice Center project manager and a Family Justice Center director.

“I’m proud to join my colleagues here today to celebrate this great news, as we work together to make our families and our communities safer and stronger. A Family Justice Center in Rockford will help us streamline the system to provide victims the services and support they need,” Kinzinger said. “Ensuring our community has the resources necessary to reduce murder rates and criminal activities is crucial, and our community engagement is even more vital to bettering Rockford for the future.”

Earlier this year, McNamara created the Mayor’s Office of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Prevention to coordinate city efforts and comprehensively tackle the problems of domestic violence and human trafficking. According to the city, domestic violence accounts for approximately 34 percent of Rockford’s violent crime, and approximately 25 percent of the city’s homeless population were without a residence as a result of domestic violence.

After a review of all juveniles arrested for violent offenses in Rockford in 2016 and 2017, the city found that 75 percent of the juveniles grew up in homes where domestic violence was prevalent or were direct victims of domestic violence. Additionally, in 2016, Illinois ranked eighth in the United States for reported human trafficking cases, with Rockford ranking second in the state, behind Chicago. R. 

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