Story by: Jan Runions
Claiborne County has been awarded a $240,000 grant by the Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Programs to fund the development of a Family Justice Center. The Claiborne Commission unanimously adopted a resolution in February, by request of 8th District Attorney General Jared Effler, to allow Claiborne County Mayor Joe Brooks to proceed with applying for the grant.
The application, submitted in March, was accepted and the county notified on April 29.
A Family Justice Center (FJC) is a communitywide collaboration of public and private agencies within a centralized location that serves domestic violence victims and their families. The concept is to provide one place where victims and their families can go to receive services to promote their safety and well-being. It is often called a “one-stop shop” for domestic violence and other victims of crime who may be seeking assistance.
The model seeks to alleviate some of the obstacles met by domestic violence victims by locating services and providing assistance for the many challenges they may face. Instead of having to travel from one place to another, repeating their story over and over again, the FJC model brings services to families in one safe, convenient and family-friendly location.
It will typically house prosecutors and law enforcement who specialize in those types of cases. The facility will also provide advocates and coordinators who will help the victims navigate through the court system, from the onset. Also under that one roof will be service providers from other disciplines that may offer health and legal services. The facility will also provide education to the victims and their families.
Claiborne County has a Children’s Center that offers similar services to victims of child abuse. The FJC model is patterned under much the same guidelines.
Currently, there are only nine centers of this type that operate in the state. The Claiborne County FJC will be the second to open in the 8th Judicial District, with Scott County opening the first just last year.
“It is exceptional that the two FJCs within the 8th Judicial District represent the only FJCs in Tennessee located in rural areas, and that is a testament to the willingness and ability of our county leaders to work together for the common good,” said Effler. “It has been and will continue to be the primary goal of myself and my staff to better serve victims. The success of the Family Justice Center in Scott County and the Children’s Centers within our district is proven. We know this model works, and I am thrilled to see this plan come to fruition in Claiborne County. Victims of domestic violence and their families deserve the best we can offer.”
The grant will begin on July 1 and will run for three years. The first phase will involve the hiring of a coordinator whose goal will be to bring agency partners together to get the center organized and the doors open as soon as possible to serve victims.
“I believe an FJC being located in Claiborne County will have a dual impact by having all the services that need to be offered to an individual who has suffered from domestic violence under one roof and also raising community awareness regarding domestic violence to help reduce the stigma surrounding it. By being awarded this grant, Claiborne County can now begin work on the FJC and help restore the lives of those impacted,” said Brooks.
The mayor along with members of the 8th District Office of the Attorney General were involved in the grant application process. Claiborne Sheriff Bobby Brooks and members of CEASE Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault were also instrumental in obtaining the grant money through a collaborative effort.
Several key, local agencies offered support during the process. Included in the list were the New Tazewell and Tazewell Police Departments, the Claiborne Medical Center, Covenant Health, the local Bar Association, the Claiborne County Children’s Center and Claiborne Circuit Court Clerk Jackie Rosenbalm.
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