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Many agencies open to idea of a family justice center
A proposal for a family justice center in Union County has a long way to go before any ground is broken.
Shelter From the Storm and Concerned Community Members for a Family Justice Center presented the idea at a town hall meeting last week.
The concept of a family justice center is to bring together the agencies that work toward justice. The first such center was built in 2002 in San Diego. Oregon is host to just one family justice center in Clackamas County.
The proposal floated last week was one presented by SFS, which faces a September eviction of its advocacy center on the county campus in order to site a new county courthouse. But officials from other agencies indicate they may be open to the idea.
“I’m definitely not opposed to everyone being in the same vicinity,” said Kim McDonald, director of Mount Emily Safe Center, Eastern Oregon’s child abuse resource.
McDonald did not attend the town hall meeting but said she has spoken with SFS Director Teresa Crouser about the idea in the past. McDonald stressed that the setup would have to ensure that each agency maintains its autonomy.
“It would have to be a collaboration,” she said, noting that in some family justice centers, the agencies act as a single unit. “It wouldn’t work for us to be under the same umbrella.”
If the idea moves forward, McDonald said she would “absolutely” support it.
La Grande Police Chief Brian Harvey said family justice centers can save on long-term costs with multiple agencies working together for funding.
“Conceptually, family justice centers, I think, are a fabulous idea. They serve a lot of needs,” he said. “I think there is a lot of validity in the idea.”
For the complete story, see Wednesday's edition of The Observer.