JUSTICE DEPARTMENT TO SPEARHEAD PRESIDENTíS
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Attorney General John Ashcroft today announced the Justice Department will lead a $20 million-dollar program to develop comprehensive domestic violence victim service and support centers in 12 communities across the country. The unprecedented pilot program, the Presidentís Family Justice Center Initiative, will make a victimís search for help and justice easier by bringing professionals who provide an array of necessary services together under one roof. President Bush unveiled the initiative earlier today at a White House event formally declaring the month of October as "Domestic Violence Awareness Month."
"Domestic violence is unacceptable, and this Administration is determined to end the vicious cycle of violence," said Attorney General John Ashcroft. "Our efforts across the federal government have made it possible for tens of thousands of women and their families to renew their hope, reclaim their dignity, change their lives and protect their children."
The Presidentís Family Justice Center Initiative will provide comprehensive services for domestic violence victims at one location, including medical care, counseling, law enforcement assistance, social services, employment assistance, and housing assistance. The Department of Justice will award grants to 12 communities nationwide to develop Family Justice Centers. Communities will be encouraged to look to the family justice centers in pioneered in San Diego, California and Indianapolis, Indiana for the development and creation of their own centers. Justice Department efforts will be further supported by its partners from the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department of Labor.
"The Presidentís Initiative will provide communities with the resources designed to co-locate coordinated services to domestic violence victims into one facility," said Office on Violence Against Women Director Diane M. Stuart. "The services provided by the Family Justice Centers will help victims pursue safe and healthy lives."
Family Justice Centers are designed to bring together advocates from non-profit, non-governmental domestic violence victim services organizations, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, probation officers, governmental victim assistants, forensic medical professionals, civil legal attorneys, chaplains and representatives from community-based organizations into one centralized location.
Involvement of the faith community is integral to the Family Justice Center Initiative, as well as to the Presidentís overall strategy to end domestic violence. The Justice Department, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Defense Department are coordinating their efforts to ensure that faith communities nationwide get the training and tools necessary to help domestic violence victims in their communities.
"The faith-based component of the Family Justice Center Initiative is critical to its overall success," said Office of Justice Programs Assistant Attorney General Deborah J. Daniels. "Faith-based institutions are often the first place a domestic violence victim turns to for support and guidance."
Eligible applicants include: large urban cities, small-medium urban cities, rural counties, suburban/urban counties, tribal lands and military base communities. The Initiative will include two phases: planning, assessment and development and implementation. The Presidentís Family Justice Center Initiative Fiscal Year 2004 solicitation soon will be available on the OJP website, www.ojp.usdoj.gov/funding/.
In support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Justice Department will distribute a public service announcement (PSA) featuring Attorney General Ashcroft. In the PSA, the Attorney General challenges men from across the nation to take a pledge to help eliminate domestic violence. Information about the pledge is available at www.takethepledge.gov. Other Domestic Violence Awareness Month activities highlighted by President Bush were the Department of Health and Human Servicesí Safe and Bright Futures for Children Initiative and the release of a new Stop Family Violence postage stamp.
The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership in developing the nationís capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP is headed by an Assistant Attorney General and comprises 5 component bureaus and 2 offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime, as well as the Executive Office for Weed and Seed, and the Office of the Police Corps and Law Enforcement Education. Additional information about OJP and OVW is available on the OJP Website at www.ojp.usdoj.gov.