County receives grant to help end sexual, domestic violence, abuse

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Contra Costa County has been awarded a federal grant of nearly $1 million to help respond to incidents of sexual assault, domestic and dating violence and stalking.

The Justice Department’s Office on Violence against Women awarded a total of $32 million in 54 nationally-awarded grants, Tish Gallegos, community and media relations representative for the county’s Employment and Human Services Department. said in a formal announcement.

The county’s grant will go to the Employment and Human Services Department, which will use the money during the next three years on victim services, judicial handling, law enforcement response and in strengthening the county’s cross-sector community partnerships.

The Contra Costa County Alliance to End Abuse, an initiative of the Board of Supervisors, will manage the grant’s money and will take the lead on the project associated with the grant, the statement said. The Employment and Human Services Department supervises the Alliance.

For nearly 20 years, the Alliance has worked toward improving how domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and human trafficking issues have been handled through building partnerships and providing education to professionals and the public.

The statement praised the Alliance for achieving “significant and coordinated progress” in helping victims of violence, in holding offenders accountable and in increasing public awareness of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and stalking.

The statement said the Alliance has accomplished this through piloting, supporting and coordinating a variety of activities and services that focus on interpersonal violence.

One approach has been the Family Justice Centers in the west and central portions of Contra Costa County.

Those centers have become one-stop service centers for victims and their families through 38 on-site partners, a specialized domestic violence court, supervision of domestic violence offenders, aiding high-risk case review teams, a “train the trainer” program, public awareness campaigns and outreach events.

In addition, the Alliance has a key role in launching and leading the Contra Costa Human Trafficking Coalition, which is made up of 30 organizations and agencies that provide direct services to human trafficking victims.

“While Contra Costa County is a true model of a coordinated response to violence against women and other forms of interpersonal violence, the Alliance continues to address ongoing challenges,” the release said.

“Due to the county’s large size and the socioeconomic and racial/ethnic diversity, there remains a crucial need for sustaining and adding more high-quality services in existing and new locations – East County and rural areas,” the statement said.

Among the things needed is increasing awareness and understanding at the judicial level of interpersonal violence, particularly risk assessment. Also necessary is learning and understanding how different forms of violence intersect.

Other important approaches are improving practice and protocols for law enforcement’s handling of interpersonal violence cases, pertinent policies and practices and the coordination among those providing services that address various forms of interpersonal violence, she said in her statement.

Community-based partners in the Alliance are STAND! for Families Free of Violence, a comprehensive, multi-service agency for domestic violence victims; Bay Area Legal Aid, a legal services agency; and Community Violence Solutions, an agency that works to end sexual assault and human trafficking.

Other partners include the Contra Costa Family Justice Alliance, which manages two one-stop victim services centers in the county; Contra Costa County Probation Department; and two culturally-specific victim services providers, Narika and The Latina Center.

Superior Court of Contra Costa County, the Office of the District Attorney, the Rainbow Community Center and the police departments of Concord, Pittsburg, and Richmond also are partners that have been providing critical in-kind support and resources.

“This funding will allow us to expand services into East County, improve risk assessment protocols and policy for law enforcement and engage more culturally relevant services,” said Alex Madsen, human trafficking project manager in the Alliance to End Abuse.

“We look forward to further strengthening the work and innovations of our partners,” she said.

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