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Commissioners find home for family justice center

A family justice center serving Canadian County could be up and running by midyear, officials said Monday.
The center, which will provide a one-stop location for victims of domestic abuse, will be housed within a $3.9 million addition to the Gary E. Miller Canadian County Children’s Justice Center.
“I’m excited that we’re pushing through,” County Commissioner David Anderson said Monday at the commissioners’ meeting.
Commissioner Marc Hader agreed.
“It’s been quite a journey, and this is good news for our community,” he said.
Monday, the commissioners approved a $53,982 change order in the children’s justice center addition to accommodate the family justice center – including creating separate, secure entrances.
The space should be completed within six months, Anderson said.
The group of stakeholders that is working on the center considered other options, including the building that formerly housed El Reno’s hospital, before deciding on the
children’s justice center addition, Anderson said.
The family justice center will use a section of the addition that is being built for future needs of the children’s justice center.
By the time the children’s justice center needs the space, the family justice center will move to other space, Anderson said.
He hopes that eventually a domestic violence center will be part of the family justice center.
The space, which includes 10 offices and a conference room, is ideal for the family justice center, said Tommy Humphries, the assistant district attorney who is helping establish the center.
The office space will allow domestic violence victims to meet with representatives of various offices that serve them instead of having to navigate back and forth among offices, he said.
The agencies represented will include the Canadian County sheriff’s office, the district attorney’s office and Intervention Child Advocacy Network.
Having a range of agencies housed at the family justice center will qualify it for grants under the federal Victims of Crime Act, he noted.
Another advantage of the space is that it is close to other offices that serve children, juveniles and families, including the Children’s Justice Center and Youth & Family Services, Humphries said.
The stakeholder group made great progress since Kristie Chandler started as the project coordinator for the family justice center Sept. 16, Humphries said.
Chandler arranged a series of meetings of four work groups for the project.
“We covered a lot in the first 60 days,” he said.
The stakeholder is implementing a strategic planning report that is based on a vision it created during a May planning retreat.
The Alliance for Hope International, an organization that has helped create many family justice centers, conducted the retreat and wrote the report.
The benefits the report cites include reducing the number of abuse incidents and the amount of human trafficking, as well as making the community more aware of the trauma that victims experience and of the center’s services.
“The broad base of support is really impressive,” District Attorney Mike Fields said.
“This is our common problem, and we all have a stake in finding solutions to it.”

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