On March 5th, the Multnomah County Department of Community Justice (DCJ) celebrated the official launch of its new Safety First program. For years, Multnomah County families have been without a local agency to provide safe and supervised parenting time for children affected by domestic violence. Thanks to grant funding received through the Office on Violence Against Women and support from the Multnomah Board of Commissioners, the entire metro region stands to benefit from the Safety First program. Two locations will be offering supervised on-site visits as well as safe exchanges of children for unsupervised parenting time. DCJ expects over 120 families to use these services over the coming year.
DCJ Director, Scott Taylor kicked off the event and welcomed the crowd of about 60 attendees - representing a broad cross-section of community partners and advocates. Multnomah County District Two Commissioner Loretta Smith celebrated the progress being made in the community’s growing awareness of domestic violence issues but encouraged the audience to keep pressing for new resources and new solutions. Additional speakers included those who founded and developed the program including: Janice Garceau, Safety First Program Manager; Hon. Eve Miller, Clackamas County Judge; and Linda Arata, Coordinator of Child & Youth Services at VOA Home Free, a local domestic violence advocacy program. Sara Windsheimer, Program Coordinator of Safety First, used her closing comments to speak on behalf of the domestic violence survivors who have already started to take advantage of the new services.
Many parents volunteered their stories to be shared anonymously.
One participant wrote:
“With safety first, my son gets to see his daddy. I don't have to see my abuser and I really do feel safe. I feel my son is safe. He has someone there to be sure he is comfortable and happy during his time.”
~~ Residential Parent ~~