By Cherri N. Allison, Esq.
Imagine that you are a domestic violence victim and the mother of two small children under the age of ten. You have been in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship for 12 years. You are a stay at home mom and your husband controls all of the family finances. You have just found out you are pregnant and are afraid to tell your spouse because the last time you did the violence escalated. You literally have nowhere to turn. The police have been to your home several times and you have been in the hospital emergency room more than once. Before the Alameda County Family Justice Center opened in 2005 you literally had to navigate dozens of agencies in a county that spans 821 square miles. You must maneuver a medical system; navigate criminal and civil legal systems, and a court system that is incomprehensible at best. At the same time you are experiencing extreme emotional and financial stress and the possibility of homelessness. There must be a better way!
Simply locating different organizations in one space is not necessarily innovative nor does it inspire systems change or movement building. However, when the people who lead those organizations and maintain those systems begin to reach across barriers, real or imagined, such as the language of disciplines, stereotypes and implicit bias, client service delivery changes. Letting go of the need to be right, demystifying program and systems content are at the core of the Family Justice Center model. We must make thinking outside the boundaries the norm and operate from a client centered, strength based perspective to implement systems change work that has positive implications for clients.
Serving more than 100,000 survivors since opening in 2005 the Alameda County Family Justice Center is systems change model, changing how service providers interact with each other and keeping the best interest of the clients at the forefront. The ACFJC seeks first to ensure client safety and healing, provide opportunities for self-empowerment and forgiveness for survivors of domestic violence and their children, survivors of sexual assault and exploitation and all manner of interpersonal violence and abuse located in one place, comprehensive and coordinated, culturally sensitive and responsive to client needs.
So visit if you can, see the possibilities, embrace change.