Thursday, July 29, 2010

Nashville will launch center to target family violence

By Michael Cass • THE TENNESSEAN • July 29, 2010

 A Nashville will develop a center to coordinate services for victims of family violence, Mayor Karl Dean announced Wednesday.

The Nashville Family Connections Center will coordinate the work of multiple government and nonprofit agencies to try to reduce the number of children and youth exposed to family violence.

"By sharing information and working together, all of the agencies involved in addressing family violence will be able to provide more effective services," Dean said. "And we'll be able to reduce the cyclical pattern of family violence in our community."

The center was recommended by a 52-member task force that Dean appointed to develop strategies for ensuring the well-being of children and youth. The group's five working committees looked at health, safety, out-of-school time, education life cycle, and mobility and stability.

"With input from literally hundreds of young people and hundreds of adults, it puts in place 14 outcomes that all of us believe go toward helping a young person grow, thrive and become the kind of adult we all hope they can be," Metro Councilman Ronnie Steine, a co-chairman of the task force, said in an interview.

"Most of the things you will see in the report are commonsensical. But there is great power in finally writing them down with wide agreement that they're important to us."

Steine said he has started working with Dean's administration on a "children and youth budget," which will track what the city spends on children and youth. He called the idea "revolutionary to think about in terms of focusing resources."

The center will focus on family violence as a whole, including domestic violence, child abuse, delinquency prevention, intervention and family support services. It will include representatives from the police department, the district attorney's office, the Tennessee Department of Children's Services, Davidson County Juvenile Court, Metro Social Services and nonprofit advocacy organizations. The center probably will be housed in existing, vacant space. Its structure will be similar to that of the Metro Student Attendance Center, a partnership between Juvenile Court, the police department and the school system to address the issue of truancy. Metro officials will spend most of the next year planning before the center opens.

The task force's report is available at

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