Nampa was one of only 15 cities nationwide to receive funding for a new model of assisting victims of domestic violence. The Family Justice Center has been up and running in Canyon County now for just two weeks, and we asked Executive Director Rebecca Lovelace how the Family Justice Center differs from traditional means of helping victims of violence.
BW: What's the scoop behind this all-service center?
RL: The Family Justice Center is a collaboration of various service providers housed under one roof as a one-stop location for different agencies. So instead of sending a domestic violence victim to five places across the region to receive services, it's all here.
What services work in the Family Justice Center and do you hope to expand?
We have counselors, advocates, law enforcement, Legal Aid attorneys, and clergy to help victims. The Department of Health and Welfare is here. Also, representatives from the Mountain Home Air Force Base are here part-time to help military families. In the future, we're going to have limited medical services.
How did people in Nampa come up with the idea to build the first Family Justice Center in Idaho?
The model is based on one in operation in San Diego. Detective Angela Weeks with the Nampa Police Department toured that facility and became the visionary for this project. We applied for a Community Development Block Grant through the city of Nampa. Also in January of '04, the director of the San Diego Family Justice Center took the concept to [President Bush] to convince the powers that be that this is an awesome concept. The president then developed the Family Justice Center Initiative to fund 15 sites around the country. Nampa was one of them.
What role does the center fit in the community?
It has a strong positive impact on domestic violence. This is a community problem and it affects everyone--business owners, employers, families--so this really is a community project. The Family Justice Center will result in more people reporting domestic violence and more instances of prosecution. We're already seeing higher prosecution rates.
What's your vision for the center?
I want to provide more services for victims, not just the immediate needs of law enforcement and attorneys. We want to be an extremely comprehensive program. I hope we grow to incorporate everyone here that wants to be a part of helping victims.
You're working in a new facility under a relatively new model. What kinks have you run into?
The problems are little speed bumps like not being up and running with computer access and our phones weren't being transferred to the lines they should be. Nothing has affected how we help clients.
You got the idea for the center from a similar facility in California. Are there communities now coming to you for help to build a Family Justice Center?
Family Justice Centers are going up anywhere. Idaho Falls and in Ada County are some examples. We've had numerous phone calls and visits from a lot of people. I'm helping out wherever I can. It's the next wave of victim services and I'm proud Idaho and Nampa can be a role model for a nationally recognized program. We are looked upon to help others surfacing around our area and I'm very proud of that.