By Susan Stephens
ROCKFORD – Rockford-area leaders recognize domestic violence and human trafficking as some of the biggest problems in the community. Now the tool they’ve been working on to tackle those issues is closer to becoming a reality.
About 200 service providers, law enforcement officials, and survivors of domestic violence are taking part in a two-day planning session for a “family justice center.” That term is used for a number of facilities across the country that serve victims of domestic violence and aid in prosecution of offenders.
Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara unveiled the new name for the work-in-progress that’s been labeled a family justice center for Rockford: The Family Peace Center. Survivors of domestic violence chose the name because it sounded more welcoming – and that’s important during an extremely difficult time for victims and their children.
“I think it really encapsulates what we want to bring to the city of Rockford,” McNamara said, “what we want to bring to the families, and to the children of our community.”
Retired Judge Rosemary Collins has pushed for the center for years. Her priority is to see all agencies that serve domestic violence victims housed in one place.
“We want survivors to heal,” Collins said, “We want children to know that there are other options than resorting to violence. And we want to hold offenders accountable.”
By the end of the workshop, organizers plan to have a mission and vision for the center, as well as work groups in place. They’re also looking into possible locations for the center.
A $450,000 federal grant will fund the Family Peace Center in its infancy. Fundraising efforts will focus on community support. The physical facility will be in Rockford and organizers hope to have it running by next year.
Featured image by Susan Stephens