Forsyth County has had many firsts in providing resources for victims of family violence.
The first battered women’s shelter in the state was established in Forsyth County in 1978. Family Services established one of the first Child Advocacy Centers in the state in 2000. The first Multi-Agency Center in the state to provide one-stop services for domestic violence and sexual assault victims, known as Safe on Seven, was established in 2005.
Since 2017, a planning group in Forsyth County has been meeting to discuss a greater vision for Forsyth County – the establishment of a Family Justice Center.
The establishment of a Family Justice Center in Forsyth County will equip our community to better address domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and elder abuse by co-locating services and providers into one centralized location.
Family Services commissioned a community assessment. It identified the need for better coordinated services.
A planning group convened and began the process of exploring options to create a Family Justice Center in Forsyth County. The planning group engaged the Alliance for HOPE International, an organization that helped start the first Family Justice Center in the US and has helped more than 70 centers form.
January – On January 29 and 30, the Alliance for HOPE International came to Forsyth County for a two-day Study Tour. The Study Tour assessed our community’s readiness for a Family Justice Center. On the morning of the 29th, Family Services and our planning partners welcomed 175 people to SECCA to hear a presentation from Community Leaders and Casey Gwinn, with the Alliance for HOPE International.
After the morning presentation, members of the Alliance led focus groups throughout the county for 150 individuals to gather feedback on our community and to assess our strengths and growth areas. The focus groups included two groups of survivors who spoke of their first-hand experience of receiving services in Forsyth County.
At the end of the two-day study tour, the Alliance for HOPE International debriefed with the planning committee. The leaders of the Alliance for HOPE International celebrated all that our community has already achieved, while also providing some specific feedback on areas of growth.
Read the Study Tour report to learn more
about key themes from meetings with partners, highlights from
a focus groups with survivors and partners, and recommendations
from the Alliance for HOPE leaders.
Spring – The planning group transitioned into a Steering Committee led by Bob Feikema, President and CEO of Family Services, with representation from the following organizations:
- Family Services
- Forsyth County
- Forsyth County Department of Social Services
- Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office
- Winston Salem Police Department
- Forsyth County Sheriff’s Department
- Kernersville Police Department
- Children’s Law Center of Central North Carolina
- Legal Aid of Northwest North Carolina
- Superior Court, District 21
- The Parenting Path
Summer – A Planning Coordinator was brought on board to coordinate the expanding effort to create a Family Justice Center in Forsyth County. J. Nelson-Weaver brings 25 years of experience with community engagement, project management, and program planning and evaluation.
August 27 & 28 – A Strategic Planning session will be held. This will create the framework to further our Family Justice Center process in our community. Alliance for HOPE International leaders will facilitate the session.