Women Aware awarded $1M grant from U.S. Department of Justice Office for Violence Against Women

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Women Aware, Inc. recently received an unprecedented $1 million grant from the U. S. Department of Justice Office for Violence Against Women 2021 Improving Criminal Justice Responses to Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking Grant Program (ICJR).

The grant provides funding for the Middlesex County Family Justice Center (FJC), the first of its kind in Middlesex County and only the fifth in the State of New Jersey, according to information provided by Women Aware.

The goal of the FJC is to reduce domestic violence homicides, and increase the safety and confidentiality of domestic violence survivors and their children in collaboration with co-located victim services agencies, according to the statement.

The FJC will help survivors and their families get the resources and support they need at one location.

Partnering with Women Aware are Middlesex County (the Middlesex County Office of Human Services, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, and the Middlesex County Center for Empowerment), Central Jersey Legal Services, Jewish Family Services, Partners for Women and Justice, American Friends Service Committee, Middlesex County Board of Social Services, NJ DCF Division of Child Protection and Permanency, Coming Home of Middlesex County, Manavi, Town Clock Community Development Corporation, and A Partnership for Change.

“Moving survivors beyond abuse is a community effort. Women Aware is grateful for our County partners’ commitment to serving survivors better,” Chief Executive Officer Phyllis Yonta said in the statement. “Working collaboratively, in one space, under the umbrella of the family justice center, our purpose is to radically improve family safety as well as offender accountability.”

The grant will pay out over four years from Oct. 1, 2021, to Sept. 30, 2025.

The grant will fund rental costs of the family justice center space; staff and visitor parking; family justice center branding and website creation; and salary and benefits for one full-time legal resource director and one full-time intake specialist, according to the statement.

“For over 40 years, Women Aware has provided safe shelter, hotline services, legal services, educational and community programming, and housing services for victims of domestic violence in Middlesex County. On behalf of all the Board of County Commissioners, I would like to thank Women Aware for not just assisting victims but for creating a safe environment that removes the stigma, stress, fear, and hesitation that often influences victims’ ability to reach out for help,” Board of County Commissioners Director Ronald G. Rios said in the statement.

“This federal award of $1 million from the Office of Violence Against Women is a testament to the work Women Aware has done and the coalition of agencies they have brought together to further develop the FJC for the benefit of Middlesex County residents,” he said.

“The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office is honored to work with Women Aware. We congratulate Women Aware for their efforts in securing a substantial OVW grant that supports the FJC initiative here in Middlesex County. The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office secured the first grant that allowed for initial space and growth for the FJC initiative. We look forward to working with Women Aware and the additional partner agencies to help best support survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault dating violence and stalking,” Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone said in the statement.

As the Middlesex County FJC improves safety, access to services, and confidentiality for victims and families, so, too, will survivors in Middlesex County benefit from this project through:
• Stronger legal advocacy and other services for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, including strengthening assistance with immigration matters; and
• Safe and affordable housing options for survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

The FJC is located at 100 Bayard St., fourth floor, New Brunswick.

Women Aware’s domestic violence hotline is available 24/7 at 732-249-4504, toll-free at 833-249-4504.

Follow Women Aware on social media @womenawareinc and @womenaware