City Must Seek Feedback on Family Justice Centers From DV Survivors

By Rory I. Lancman

Special to the Eagle

New York City spends millions every year on programs and resources to combat domestic violence and support victims and families. But what do survivors who receive this assistance, mostly women, think of the services we provide them? Are they worthwhile and helpful or are there ways they could be improved?

Councilmember Rory Lancman represents Queens District 24. // Photo courtesy of Lancman’s office

Councilmember Rory Lancman represents Queens District 24. // Photo courtesy of Lancman’s office

In order to answer these questions, I drafted legislation in the City Council to require the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence to provide clients with satisfaction surveys after they have received services from a city-operated Family Justice Center. The legislation requires the Mayor’s Office to submit an annual report to the City Council fully analyzing the data collected and broken down by borough and victim status. Just this week the Council’s Committee on Women held a hearing to formally consider my legislation and put it on the road to becoming law.

We took care when drafting the legislation to respect the sensitive nature of domestic violence cases: all survey responses will be anonymous, and no one will be required to complete a survey.

Sadly, the number of domestic violence incidents continues to rise in New York City. The NYPD reported that the total number of domestic violence incident reports increased from 91,617 in 2016 to 108,821 in 2017. For the second straight year, the New York City Domestic Violence Hotline answered more than 80,000 calls.

While it is essential that the city has services in place to assist those in need, we must be certain that the resources offered are effective. New York City has created Family Justice Centers in each of the five boroughs to provide victims of domestic violence with access to free and confidential services all under one roof. The goal is to efficiently connect victims with the help they need, whether that is a case manager, a lawyer, a counselor, and much more.

We know that the services offered at the Family Justice Centers are comprehensive and serve individuals in many communities with a variety of needs. However, what we do not know is how the people using these services feel they are working. That is information that our city needs to know, especially as more individuals are reporting domestic violence incidents and are potentially in need of services and support. We can use this data to guide our decision making into what services need to be expanded, improved, or left alone.

I look forward to working with my Council colleagues to ensure my legislation becomes law. Victims of domestic violence deserve our full support, and quality services to help them in their time of need. This bill would be an important step forward for our city.

Councilmember Rory Lancman represents District 24.