Empower Yolo, the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office and the Yolo County Administrator’s Office have joined forces on a new project to address the needs of victims of family violence, sexual assault and human trafficking as part of the mission of the newly formed Family Violence Coordination Pilot Program.
Other community partners include the Yolo County Health and Human Services Agency, Victim Services Program, Probation Department, Office of Education and Child Support Services; First 5 Yolo Children and Families Commission; Dignity Health; UC Davis Family Protection and Legal Assistance Clinic; and local law enforcement agencies.
This partnership is creating an improved coordinated response to all survivors of family violence by co-locating and coordinating existing county services on-site at Empower Yolo — 175 Walnut St. in Woodland — so survivors can avoid traveling to, and navigating through, multiple systems when they have limited windows of time and multiple urgent needs.
Although Empower Yolo provides comprehensive resources, prevention, education and community support services to the public on-site, community resources typically provided by county agencies were offered at separate locations. Now, through this public-private partnership, all clients have access and exposure to expanded programs and services.
“Domestic violence continues to be a significant issue across Yolo County,” says District Attorney Jeff Reisig. “My office has been and will continue to be committed to aggressively prosecuting these crimes and doing our part to help victims of domestic violence and their families.
“Recently, several county leaders approached me about leading an effort to establish a countywide family justice center, which is a place where victims of family violence can go to get comprehensive wrap-around help. What was immediately clear to me, and some others, was that Empower Yolo was already doing so much in this arena.
“We did not need to start a new massive government program from scratch, but instead we needed to supplement the fantastic work already being done in our community by Empower Yolo,” he adds. “Thus, our county efforts in this project are now all about partnerships, collaboration and supplementation with those at Empower Yolo. We are grateful that they are here in our community.”
Cameron Handley, the county’s children’s advocacy center director, is spearheading the efforts for the county and works on-site at Empower Yolo.
Lynnette Irlmeier, executive director of Empower Yolo, welcomes the new partnership.
“The lives of victims of intimate partner violence don’t fit on a checklist,” she says. “This partnership supports survivors in identifying their barriers — even those not directly related to violence — and explores opportunities to build individualized comprehensive support plans for everyone who walks through our door.”
On Jan. 3, Empower Yolo opened a new lobby and central intake area at its Walnut Street offices as part of the Family Violence Coordination Pilot Program. All clients are now paired with client navigators who help them assess, coordinate and prioritize needed services.
Clients fill out one short intake form that opens the door to all services already offered by Empower Yolo, as well as the expanded services now available through this collaboration and partnership.
This centralized intake process utilizing client navigators also has expanded services to existing clients who may have been unaware of all of the services they were eligible for. County service providers will respond to clients at Empower Yolo, making the best use of a client’s limited time.
Client navigators coordinate services based on individual client need and arrange for clients to meet with multiple providers in one visit. While adults are meeting with service providers, their children are engaged in structured activities aimed at safety.
In West Sacramento, this project will be expanding services soon to include a drop-in center for vulnerable youths and human trafficking survivors. They will have opportunities to participate in support groups and meet with service providers, advocates and therapists.
This location also will provide a safe, supportive and comfortable place to meet with representatives of law enforcement and other government agencies. Program services will continue to support survivors throughout the criminal justice process and journey to safe and healthy living.
For more information on the Family Violence Coordination Pilot Program, call Empower Yolo at 530-661-6336.
– Natalia Baltazar is the director of development and community relations of Empower Yolo; her column is published monthly. For more information, visit http://empoweryolo.org