History_-_SDFJC_Grand_Opening_-_Group_Photo_-_283x138The Family Justice Center movement is a logical extension of the domestic violence movement. The Family Justice Center model has grown rapidly over the last ten years as the need for efficient and effective co-located multi-disciplinary service delivery models has been recognized as a best practice model by the Department of Justice. 

1989 - The Family Justice Center Model Vision is Born
The vision of the Family Justice Center model was first proposed in 1989 to the local District Attorney and City Attorney by then Deputy City Attorney Casey Gwinn. The premise was simple: victims would have an easier time receiving needed services if they only had to go one place to get all the necessary help. It was not a new concept, but it was clear that the system was too hard for victims to navigate. Gwinn never received a formal response to his proposal. It was fair to say that a co-located multi-disciplinary service model for domestic violence victims was an idea whose time had not come.
1990 - Multi-Disciplinary Professionals Co-Locate

The City Attorney’s office remained determined to move forward with the concept. By the early 1990’s, other government agencies and community-based organizations began to co-locate at the City Attorney’s office. It became abundantly clear that the idea was the right one. Victims could get a restraining order and see a prosecutor. They could talk to a detective and meet with an advocate from Children’s Hospital. 

1998 – The Partnership and Planning Begins

In 1998, David Bejarano became the Police Chief of San Diego. Bejarano and City Attorney Casey Gwinn sat down and talked about two initiatives: 1) Creation of a Neighborhood Prosecution Unit; and 2) Creation of a co-located multi-disciplinary service model for victims of domestic violence. They took the idea of co-located services to the next step. A feasibility study was ultimately completed by Sgt. Monica Kaiser from the San Diego Police Department.

2001 – The City Approves the Family Justice Center Proposal
In 2001, City Attorney Casey Gwinn and former Police Chief David Bejarano, with the support from the community and the San Diego Domestic Violence Council, were ready to formally propose the creation of a Family Justice Center in the City of San Diego for victims of domestic violence. After public comment, the PS&NS Committee unanimously directed Gwinn and Bejarano to submit their plan to the City Council for their review and approval.
2002 – The San Diego Family Justice Center Opens

With the unanimous vote from the Mayor and City Council, the Family Justice Center opened on October 10, 2002. Gael Strack leaves her role as Assistant City Attorney and becomes the Director of the Family Justice Center. Victims of domestic violence in the City of San Diego could now come to one location to talk to an advocate, get a restraining order, plan for their safety, talk to a police officer, meet with a prosecutor, receive medical assistance, counsel with a chaplain, get help with transportation, and obtain nutrition and pregnancy services counseling.

2003 - The President’s Family Justice Center Initiative is Launched

In 2003, President George W. Bush announced the creation of the President’s Family Justice Center Initiative. The President based his Initiative on the San Diego Family Justice Center model. The $20 million Initiative began a movement toward more co-located, multi-disciplinary service centers. The Initiative specifically set out to create fifteen additional Family Justice Centers around the nation.

2006 – The National Family Justice Center Alliance is Launched

The National Family Justice Center Alliance was launched in 2006 as a program of the San Diego Family Justice Center Foundation and in response to the increasing demand for technical assistance from existing and developing Centers across the world.

2008 – Family Justice Center Alliance becomes its Own Non-Profit Organization

Due to the tremendous demand for technical assistance by new and emerging Family Justice Centers around the world, it became clear to board members of the San Diego Family Justice Center Foundation that a new governance structure was needed to ensure a continued focus on the San Diego Family Justice Center, Camp Hope and also the growing National Family Justice Center Alliance. As a result, Gael Strack left the San Diego Family Justice Center in May 2007 and Casey Gwinn left to San Diego Family Justice Center Foundation in December 2007. In January 2008, the National Family Justice Center Alliance was officially launched as a new and separate non-profit organization with a new board of trustees.

To read a more detailed history of the FJC Movement, purchase Dream Big: A Simple, Complicated Idea to Stop Family Violence.

National Family Justice Center Alliance
707 Broadway, Suite 700, San Diego, CA 92101
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