The New York City Family Justice Center in Brooklyn opened on July 22, 2005, one year after Mayor Michael Bloomberg and my Office were awarded a grant, under the United States Office on Violence Against Women, to start the center.
We were one of 15 sites to receive the grant, out of 150 locations from around the US who applied. The center is a community-government partnership which is administered by the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence and is designed to make a variety of services available to victims of intimate partner abuse, who live and/or work in Brooklyn.
The center has four different civil legal providers for Family Court and matrimonial court proceedings as well as domestic violence-knowledgeable immigration lawyers to assist victims who do not have legal status in the US. All of the DA’s Office Domestic Violence prosecutors, counselors and staff are at the center.
Additionally, the center has programs to assist victims in gaining financial self-sufficiency, such as ESL classes, financial planning workshops, and connections to housing and public assistance. Safe Horizon, the city’s largest victim advocacy organization is here as well as numerous organizations dealing with underserved ethnic communities, such as the Asian Women’s Center, Dwa Fanm (serving Haitian women), Tamkeen (serving Arabic women) and the Jewish Board of Children and Family Services, to name but a few. Clergy are present on site to provide spiritual assistance. Language Line telephone translation services are available for more than 170 languages.
The idea is that by co-locating all of these multi-disciplinary services, you can abbreviate the amount of time it takes to get help if you are in crisis, and you will achieve safety faster and more easily than if you had to go to agencies and offices all over the city.
More than 10,000 clients and close to 3,000 children have come to the center at least once. Overall client visits are somewhere around 25,000 visits in the nearly three years since opening day. The center is named in memory of Regina Drew, my mother, who suffered years of physical abuse from my father. The children’s room and the kids’ counseling services attached to it are named Margaret’s Place, in honor of Joe Torre’s mother and is funded though Joe Torre’s Safe at Home Foundation. The center has hosted visitors from around the globe, as its model is now being widely replicated.
I am proud to tell you that victims of domestic violence in Brooklyn no longer have to make a complicated, city-wide odyssey to get the help they and their families need.
Brooklyn District Attorney