The Contra Costa Family Justice Center is more than just a place on the map. It is a safe haven providing long-term solutions to women and children fleeing domestic violence, abuse and poverty. The Family Justice Center is a resource providing access to health care, education, employment, income-earning opportunities and social connectedness to populations that are often invisible and overlooked by the mainstream community.
What is a Family Justice Center
The Family Justice Center provides resources for families that have been affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, elder abuse and human trafficking. Today, there are three centers located throughout Contra Costa County to serve families, regardless of their geographic location. Recognizing that each family has survived a unique set of trauma, the centers focus on providing physical safety, healing and finding community. Personalized care ensures each individual and each family have access to the resources they need to not just survive, but learn how to truly thrive.
The Center is seen as a welcoming and warm “1-Stop” center for families needing support. Research suggests that survivors of violence have to access as many as 32 different agencies to get help. For someone who is already living in a high state of stress and often fear, getting help is overwhelming and perhaps out of reach. The Family Justice Center brings resources from all agencies together, under 1 roof, to be able to provide wrap-around solutions. Help includes access to law enforcement, crime victim compensation, legal advice, completing restraining orders, health care and access to other benefits. With over 40 partners and internal advocates providing access to education and community resources, families can find the support they need to start a new life. Instead of remaining in a situation of abuse, the Center is a place where people can leave and know they have someone who can help them navigate a path to safety and health. The Center makes leaving, and living, an option.
A Bit of History
In 2001, Contra Costa Country passed SB 968, which made the county the first Zero Tolerance for Domestic Violence County in the state of California. Currently, the program is called, “Alliance to End Abuse.” It took until 2011 to open the first Family Justice Center in Richmond, named the West Family Justice Center. In 2015, Central Grant Justice Center opened in Concord. In 2016, the not-for-profit had grown exponentially, and was governed by a 13-member board of directors. In 2019, the newest Center is opening in Antioch.
With each passing year came greater understanding for the needs of families leaving situations of interpersonal violence, which includes rape and sexual assault, child abuse, elder abuse, human trafficking, stalking, and domestic violence. As understanding grew, so did the resources that the Center would provide. Today, at any of the Centers, families can find help with Crisis Support, Long-Term Support, Community Building and Capacity Building. These 4 pillars build a foundation of survival and building a stable future.
What to Expect
Crisis support is access to immediate needs that someone in crisis might need, including legal help, access to food and clothing and personal, physical safety. Long-term safety support services are plans that allow survivors to access services that enhance their life skills, well-being, and address barriers to long-term self-sufficiency. This process is entirely driven by an individual’s competencies, strengths, needs and personal goals. The goal is to build a long-term strategy to help everyone work towards a life without violence. This support is built into 4 groups, including health, education, training and wealth and community.
Community Building work is a way in which families can build a supportive community. As the saying goes, “It takes a village.” Community building work includes camp opportunities for the youth, fellowship programs for adults and projects that build community and social connection. Finally, each Center has Capacity Building programs which are designed to educate people in the community about the types of interpersonal violence embedded in the community. The mentality is that as more people become aware, the capacity to eradicate violence becomes more of a reality.
Who Qualifies for Help
Anyone who identifies as a survivor of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and/or human trafficking, their children and non-offending family members are all eligible. The three centers are located throughout Contra Costa County and located at 256 24th Street in Richmond, CA 94804; 2151 Salvio Street, suite 201 in Concord, CA 94520 and 3501 Lone Tree Way in Antioch, CA 94509.
Appointments are recommended, but walk-ins are always welcome. Hours at all 3 locations are from 9am to 5pm Monday – Friday. If you are seeking services, you do not need to bring anything with you. If you have information or documentation, you are welcome to bring it. However, highly trained staff will work with you to determine what sort of support you need and the best strategies to obtain it. And, there are no costs. That means that there is no reason to avoid asking for help because of monetary concerns.
Children are also welcome to come to the Family Justice Center. There are specially designed areas where children can play while adults are receiving services. Although no child care is provided, staff will do their best to help you with young children. Professionals also will not ask about immigration status – providing an extra layer of assurance for families seeking help.
How Can You Help
The Family Justice Center depends on donations and volunteers from the community. If you are actively seeking volunteer opportunities, call the Center that is nearest you. Visit www.cocofamilyjustice.org for phone numbers. You can also follow www.cocofamilyjustice.org to make a monetary donation directly to the Center.
A Gracious Invitation
We dedicate many hours exploring our local backroads. And as much as we love to celebrate the grand opening of a new retail location or enjoy the rich flavors of a unique restaurant, recognizing the incredible work of organizations, such as the Family Justice Center is truly an honor. We were invited to attend a Dinner and Silent Auction celebrating the Family Justice Center in early May. The event was beautiful. However, the people that surrounded us overshadowed the beauty of the venue. The generosity, the passion, the hours of giving and the commitment to creating a safe, healthy community for everyone who lives throughout out local backroads was incredibly powerful and humbling.
There is no doubt that we live in a spectacular corner of the world. We have access to fresh foods, beautiful homes, excellent schools and a wonderful lifestyle. However, we cannot forget – this community is as special as it is not for what we can see and enjoy, but truly because of the people that are behind the scenes ensuring equitable access to the health, safety, education and community to families who are impacted by violence.
And as we explore our local backroads, be sure to celebrate the people and organizations that support Contra Costa’s commitment to Zero Tolerance for Domestic Violence.