ColumnsNYLAG is one of a number of service providers soon to be on site at the Manhattan Family Justice Center, which will open early in the New Year. As the City’s fourth Family Justice Center – following the establishment of Centers in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, it represents a significant expansion of New York City’s resources to combat domestic violence. The New York City Family Justice Centers provide domestic violence victims with criminal justice, civil legal, and social services. (The City plans to open the fifth and final Center in Staten Island later this year.)

The New York City Family Justice Center in Manhattan will offer comprehensive, multilingual services to victims of domestic violence and their children, as well as victims of elder abuse, human trafficking, and child abuse. The Center brings together City agencies and community service providers, making it possible for domestic violence victims to meet with a prosecutor, receive legal advice, speak with a trained counselor, and apply for housing and financial assistance – all in one safe and convenient location.

“NYLAG has long admired the one-stop service approach taken by the City, which puts the safety and wellbeing of victims of domestic violence and their children first. New York City is a model for the rest of the country in combatting domestic violence by tapping and coordinating all necessary resources. We congratulate everyone involved in making the Manhattan Justice Center a reality – we are very proud to be a part of it,” said Yisroel Schulman.

NYLAG attorneys will meet with clients on site at the Center after they’ve been screened for family law issues to provide assistance in drafting documents, and in assessing a client’s need for broader representation, counseling or advocacy in dealing with law enforcement or the District Attorney’s Office. NYLAG Financial counselors will provide support to clients dealing with the complex financial issues victims of abuse face, including consumer debt, money management, and credit, among other concerns.

On December 20, 2013 the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence (OCDV) hosted a reception to celebrate the launch of the new Center. Yisroel Schulman and Kim Susser, Director of NYLAG’s Family Law Unit, attended the event, which included a tour of the Center’s offices, private meeting rooms for clients, and a playroom that would make any child smile. A number of City officials spoke, including OCDV Commissioner Yolanda Jimenez, and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., whose Special Victims Bureau is relocating to the new Center. He praised the critical role the Family Justice Center network has played in reducing the incidence of domestic violence, but cautioned that the battle is not won.

“Though we have seen remarkable declines in street crimes in the last decade, domestic violence continues to plague our City’s diverse communities,” said Vance. “The Center will centralize all the resources we have to offer, integrating the efforts of advocates and law enforcement, to help victims break out of cycles of violence and have a safe place to turn to.”