Family Justice Center opens in Springfield
The Family Justice Center is the 25th affiliated Family Justice Center in the United States. The goal of the center is to offer services from multiple public and private organizations, such as The Victim Center, Harmony House, Legal Services of Southern Missouri, Greene County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Springfield Police Department, Greene County Sheriff’s Office, and Children’s Division. The Greene County Family Justice Center provides one location for victims of domestic violence to receive the services they need. With all of these resources being in one place, victims will not need to re-tell their traumatic stories over and over again to different officials.
Julie Watson, the Victim Witness Coordinator for the Greene County Prosecutor's Office, said the different agencies coming together will make a huge difference in a lot of people lives. "Obviously, there's a problem that needs to be dealt with and we need the community to help us with that," said Watson. "We can't just do it on our own, that's why we've decided to kind of have partners."
Southwest Missouri has some of the highest domestic violence numbers in the entire state. According to the Family Justice Center, in 2017, the Greene County Sheriff's Department took 315 domestic violence reports while the Springfield Police Department took almost 3,000 domestic violence reports. In addition to those numbers, Harmony House received 2,773 hotline calls and The Victim Center assisted with 872 protection orders in that same year. Lastly, the Family Justice Center stated the Greene County Children's Division took 225 child abuse and neglect reports with an observed family characteristic of domestic violence in 2017.
Leaders are hopeful the new Family Justice Center will have a positive impact on the community since other Family Justice Centers around the country have shown promising results.
A grand opening for the Family Justice Center will be Monday, October 1 at 10:00 a.m. at the Greene County Election Center, located at 1126 North Boonville Avenue in Springfield. Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson, Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams, Major Phil Corcoran of the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, and a domestic violence survivor will speak at the ceremony. An open house will follow at the new Family Justice Center on the 2nd floor of the Greene County Judicial Courts Facility at 1010 North Boonville Avenue from 10:00 a.m. until noon.