A Safe Place Family Justice Center was founded in December 2013 after numerous public and non-profit partners and consultants participated in lengthy strategic planning sessions. Some of the members who play key roles from public and private agencies included, but were not limited to the Board of County Commissioners and County Administration, Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, Health, Housing and Human Services, District Attorney’s Office, Clackamas Women’s Services, Legal Aid Services of Oregon, Catholic Charities, County Facilities Management, Oregon Department of Human Services and the Clackamas County Circuit Court. The strategic planning sessions were facilitated by the National Family Justice Center Alliance’s President Casey Gwinn and nationally recognized strategic planner Phil Eastman.
The foundation for the creation of ASP-FJC was laid over the last 25 years as public and non-profit agencies in Clackamas County have worked to reduce the rates of child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, elder abuse, and other forms of family violence in Clackamas County. Its establishment is a response to the unmet needs identified in the strategic planning process of ASP-FJC with a collective goal of helping vulnerable people escape family violence and abuse that impact families and create the next generation of juvenile and adult criminals.
Information and research gathered by the National Alliance of Family Justice Centers has shown that use of the Family Justice Center model has helped communities reduce domestic violence homicides, increase victim safety, empower victims, reduce fear and anxiety for victims and their children, and reduce incidents where victims lose heart and recant allegations or minimize crimes (Casey Gwinn and Gael Strack. Hope for Hurting Families: Creating Family Justice Centers Across America. Volcano Press, 2006). This model has also been identified as a best practice in the field of domestic violence intervention and prevention services by the United States Department of Justice (Gwinn and Strack, 2006).
In 2019 there were 4,621 visitors to A Safe Place with an average of 19 visits per day. There were 739 children (under the age of 12) in attendance with participants. There were 528 protective orders processed. Of the 528 processed, 438 (83%) were granted. There were 794 visitors that identified as first time visitors. Of those 794, 213 were referred from Law Enforcement, 46 were referred from the DA’s Office, 33 were referred from online sources, 95 were referred from a DHS Office, 109 were referred by a friend or family member, and 298 were other community resource referrals.
A Safe Place cultivates a more rational, effective, coordinated and collaborative system to support survivors of family violence. The center provides a safe location where law enforcement officials, legal service providers, advocates, and community providers can support the needs of survivors under one roof and across a continuum of care.