Family justice center coming to Jeffco

Victims and survivors of abuse will have one stop for services and resources

Posted 12/24/18

Law enforcement has its own way of providing support to a victim. So does a medical professional. Same with a counselor or therapist. Often, each organization has one lens it’s looking through when …

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Family justice center coming to Jeffco

Victims and survivors of abuse will have one stop for services and resources

Posted

Law enforcement has its own way of providing support to a victim. So does a medical professional. Same with a counselor or therapist.

Often, each organization has one lens it’s looking through when offering that aid to a victim, said Monica Roers, president and CEO of the Seniors’ Resource Center.

But “it takes a kaleidoscope view to get people all the help they need,” she said.

This is what a family justice center can do — provide a centralized location for victims of crime to get all the support and resources they need. And there’s one coming to the First Judicial District, serving Jefferson and Gilpin counties.

The new center will be called PorchLight. It is the result of a collaborative effort from more than 75 partner agencies working together to provide coordinated services for victims and survivors of domestic violence; sexual assault; elder, child and at-risk adult abuse; and human trafficking.

Services could include comprehensive legal, emotional, translation and medical, as well as job placement or resume writing, child care and even makeovers.

“One of the greatest challenges faced by victims in the aftermath of crime is trying to find a new state of normal,” said Deputy District Attorney Candace Cooledge who is also the PorchLight director. “They are often overwhelmed and confused. While many services are currently available for victims in our community, access to those services may require travel to different offices or searching websites.”

PorchLight will provide a multidisciplinary approach — a coordinated effort —in one place where agencies can “put their heads together” to figure out what services will best fit the needs of a person, said Vista Exline, the executive director of Victim Outreach, Inc. (VOI).

“What we want is for (victims and survivors) to recover and heal,” she said. But, “sometimes it’s so difficult for people to access these services that they simply don’t.”

PorchLight will help them move forward and take those steps to accessing the resources they need to recover and heal, Exline added.

Service and resource providers will be able to work collaboratively to make sure that “nothing falls through the cracks,” said Ray Fleer, PorchLight’s project manager. “It is a common-sense solution to a problem that exists in our community.”

PorchLight will screen for perpetrators, to keep victimizers from accessing the services that are meant exclusively for victims, Cooledge said.

PorchLight will be the first family justice center in Jefferson County, and only the second in the state. The Rose Andom Center in Denver, which only serves victims of domestic violence, opened in July 2017.

The first family justice center in the U.S. started in San Diego in 2002. Today, there are about 130 in the world, Cooledge said.

PorchLight is to be located on a 16,543-square-foot property at 11100 W. Eighth Ave. in Lakewood. Discussions with the landlord about the lease are currently taking place, Cooledge said.

The center is scheduled to open late next year.

Sometimes victims don’t report a wrong-doing against them for fear of retribution from their abuser, or because they have concern that nobody will believe them or take them seriously, said Lori Ropa, executive director of The Arc — Jefferson, Clear Creek & Gilpin Counties.

“The only way to reduce victimization is to get people to feel comfortable with coming forward. And they need support to do that,” Ropa said. “People who have been through difficult situations don’t want to be pitied — they want to be lifted up and supported. PorchLight is a peek into the future that really can change people’s lives.”

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