In January 2018, Mayor Tom McNamara established the Mayor’s Office of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Prevention. The Office brings together the work of numerous agencies and organizations throughout the community to collectively tackle the problems of domestic violence and human trafficking.
The Office turned to our community to gain an understanding of the barriers and gaps preventing a complete community response to domestic violence and human trafficking and identify where our community must work to address the continuum of these problems. Over the course of ten months, interviews were conducted with more than 200 individuals representing stakeholders, service providers, law enforcement, faith leaders, medical personnel, first responders, court personnel, legal aid providers, educators, community members and survivors. This process led to the creation of a Task Force made up of key stakeholders to develop strategies and implement best practices to close identified gaps. Based upon interviews, we also gained an understanding for the need to co-locate services for survivors, and in February 2018, we pursued a grant to launch our communities’ effort to create our Family Peace Center.
The office was awarded a grant of nearly $500,000 from the Office on Violence Against Women in October 2018 to establish a Family Peace Center. In 2019, we partnered with the Alliance for HOPE International to embark on a Strategic Planning process and convened workgroups made up of community members from various sectors to inform the development of the Center, and in July 2020, we opened Phase 1 of the Family Peace Center at 315 North Main Street in Rockford. We will forever be indebted to our community members who attended listening sessions and planning forums and citizens who served on the following workgroups to ensure the success of the Family Peace Center:
- Governance and Facilities,
- Service Delivery & Operations,
- Funding & Sustainability,
- Community Engagement, Outreach and Volunteers,
- Research & Outcomes, and
- Faith Leaders
Other strategies of the Mayor’s Office of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Prevention include:
- Juvenile Enhanced Response Team (JVERT) – JVERT is a multi-disciplinary team that identifies children in trauma from violence in the home and develop pathways to restoration and safety so they do not become involved in the criminal justice system, either as a victim or perpetrator.
- Domestic Violence Enhanced Response Team (DVERT) – DVERT is a nationally recognized model of intervention that places an emphasis on identifying and providing coordinated, multi-disciplinary responses to high-priority/high-risk domestic violence cases.
- Educator Team– The Educator team plans the annual Educators’ Summit, which is designed to educate local teachers about domestic violence and human trafficking and provide teachers with tools to implement in their classrooms. As a result, we have seated an Educator Committee which has developed goals and objectives around the development of a region wide response to children in school dealing with violence induced trauma and the implementation of trauma informed healthy relationship curriculum in classrooms ages pre-K through 12th grade.
- VOICES Survivor Support Group – VOICES is a committee of survivors of domestic violence who volunteer their time to celebrate their strength and survival. This group of individuals use their collective voice to help others through advocacy, education and empowerment.
For more information on the Mayor’s Office of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Prevention, visit the City’s website.