The purpose of this paper is to describe the ongoing data and evaluation strategies being used to document the impact of the Guilford County Family Justice Center, which has been in operation for nearly four years.
There are four primary ongoing data and evaluation strategies used to tell the story of the impact of the family justice center (FJC) on the community: tracking services provided by the FJC, collecting annual data from partner agencies, conducting week-long censuses and doing an annual survey of professionals affiliated with the FJC and its partner organizations. (The current paper reports on the first three of these strategies.)
Methodological limitations of the evaluation strategies used warrant caution in interpreting the findings of the ongoing evaluation of the Guilford County FJC. However, preliminary evaluation findings indicate support for the center’s positive impact on the community it serves, including in the number of clients served, a reduction in domestic violence-related homicide rates and the creation of new community resources that emerged through the FJC partnership.
Each of the evaluation strategies used in this study holds inherent strengths and limitations, which are discussed in the paper. Beyond the future evaluation of local FJCs, a range of rigorous methodologies can be used to further explore the impact of the FJC model. Qualitative methods may be useful for gaining an in-depth understanding of victims’ and survivors’ perceptions of accessing resources through an FJC, as well as for studying beliefs and attitudes toward FJCs among various community stakeholders. Quantitative methods can be used to apply more complex statistical analyses to comparing indicators of the impact of FJCs over time.
The data and evaluation findings from the Guilford County FJC add support to the potential positive impact of the FJC model on communities. These preliminary data suggest that FJCs can impact communities by offering support to victims and coordinating resources among partner organizations. Collaborative partnerships can be leveraged to lead to broader community changes that strengthen community-level responses to interpersonal violence through greater community awareness, opportunities for community members to contribute to solutions and the establishment of new resources that emerge from needs identified through the partnership.
Overall, there is a pressing need for research examining various aspects of the FJC model and identifying factors that contribute to its success at fostering collaboration, supporting victims and survivors, holding offenders accountable and preventing future violence. With the rapid growth of the FJC models, the need for research and evaluation to document the effectiveness and limitations of the model is high.
Designed to serve as a one-stop shop for victims of domestic violence and other forms of violence to seek help, FJCs offer, within a single location, multiple services from a variety of professional disciplines. These services include law enforcement, victim advocacy and prosecution. Although the FJC model is expanding rapidly across the USA and internationally, research to date is limited, and thus, the current paper will add to the research and evaluation basis for the FJC movement.
Murray, C., Wyche, B. and Johnson, C. (2020), "The community-level impact of a family justice center: indicators from the Guilford County Family Justice Center", Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 1-20. https://doi.org/10.1108/JACPR-10-2019-0444
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