Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Verizon and the Family Justice Center Institute - Everyone Wins!

Right now I am in San Diego at the International Family Justice Center Conference. And what, you may wonder, is a Family Justice Center? And why would a big company like Verizon care about one?

How many places do you suppose a person who is a victim of domestic violence has to go to get help for themselves? For their children? Well, in San Diego they asked and found out 32 -- 32 places! That is too many places -- especially for a person who is not safe.

And so they created a Family Justice Center -- one place where a person could go and get the services needed -- medical, advocacy, food, clothing, job training, legal, etc -- all in one place. What an idea!

I have been privileged to serve on the President's Family Justice Center Initiative as 15 model Family Justice Centers were formed across the US through grants from the Office on Violence Against Women. And now there are Family Justice Centers across the US -- and around the world. And now I am privileged to serve on the National Advisory Board for the National Family Justice Center Alliance.

And now, throughout the U.S., survivors of domestic violence and their children will receive new and more effective services -- thanks to a $1 million grant from the Verizon Foundation to the National Family Justice Center Alliance. The grant, announced on April 4, establishes the Family Justice Center Institute, a technology and training arm within the National Family Justice Center Alliance. The center will use technology and best practices to streamline service and provide training for employees and volunteers.

The grant will be used to develop systems that:
1) Allow multiple agencies within a Family Justice Center to quickly and securely share information - so that victims will have to tell their story only once, rather than repeatedly conveying their traumatic experiences to various social, medical, legal and public safety professionals.
2) Create protocols for the development of electronic "safety deposit boxes" - helping domestic violence survivors to keep important documents secure.
3) Develop online training for Family Justice Center employees and volunteers nationwide - enabling them to share information, attend online courses and learn best practices.
4) Link the management systems of five pilot Family Justice Centers - creating consistency and information-sharing models among these centers, which will be selected during the grant period.
5) Assess technology needs - to evaluate practical uses of online client resources, text messaging and video messaging to support Family Justice Center employees and clients.

Verizon has been a longtime supporter of Family Justice Centers across the country, beginning with a Verizon Wireless HopeLine grant to the San Diego Family Justice Center in 2002. Raising awareness of domestic violence and aiding in its prevention is a key focus of the Verizon Foundation. In 2007, the foundation awarded more than $5.5 million in grants to aid in domestic violence prevention.

Isn't that perfect? A company using what it does best -- technology -- to help keep families safe and to help make communities better!

And think of this -- Verizon Communications and Verizon Wireless employ a combined approximate 250,000 people across the US. Now -- if 21% of those are victims of domestic violence (as full-time employed adults, using the results of the national survey that the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence did in 2005) -- where are those people going to go if they need help? To services in 32 places? Wouldn't it make much more sense for those employees and their families to go to Family Justice Centers where they are safe and get access to services in one location? That is a great investment of resources -- not only for Verizon employees, but for everyone in a community.

For more information about the Family Justice Center model and the National Family Justice Center Alliance, visit

No comments: