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The Family Justice Center of St. Joseph County opened its doors today, the Justice Department and the City of South Bend announced. The center, located in South Bend, Ind., is the final center to be opened under President Bush’s Family Justice Center Initiative, and is located in one of 15 communities chosen under the President’s Initiative to prevent and respond to violence against women.

The President’s Family Justice Center Initiative, which was unveiled by President Bush in October 2003 and funded by the Justice Department, is an unprecedented pilot program designed to make a victim’s search for assistance more effective by bringing the necessary services together under one roof. The Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) has guided this pilot program with the goal of using these centers as models for how communities should provide coordinated domestic violence services across the country.

“Offering coordinated and centralized services for domestic violence victims is how our communities can better respond to violence against women,” said Mary Beth Buchanan, Acting Director of the Office on Violence Against Women. “We hope that these centers will serve as models for other communities to duplicate across the country.”

The services in communities designed to help victims of domestic violence are often fragmented and uncoordinated. Centers like the Family Justice Center of St. Joseph County are designed to bring together various components, including victim advocates, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, probation officers, forensic medical professionals, civil legal attorneys, chaplains, and representatives from community-based organizations into one centralized location to better serve victims of abuse.

Through the President’s Intiative, the Family Justice Center of St. Joseph County received extensive technical assistance from the original family justice center based in San Diego, Cailf., to aid in the comprehensive development. Additional technical assistance was provided by centers in Indianapolis, Ind. and Hennepin County, Minn. Additionally, the National Network to End Domestic Violence provided the Family Justice Center of St. Joseph County with assistance in technology and victim safety.


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