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  • Empowering Survivors of Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence Victims and Advocates Benefit from New Technologies

The Retreat and Brighter Tomorrows piloting “Domestic Violence Advocate Assisted Petition Program”

East Hampton, NY (January 22, 2014) – In what holds promise to be a “win-win-win” for victims of domestic violence, client-advocates in domestic violence service organizations, and courtroom personnel ranging from judges to clerks across Suffolk County, two major domestic violence organizations this month began trying out a new streamlined, more automated process for bringing petitions to court on behalf of victims of domestic violence seeking protections.

“The new process has already cut paper processing and court-waiting times for some domestic violence victims from over two hours to under 15 minutes—and enables victims to come before a judge much sooner when they are seeking a variety of protections, including ‘Stay Away’ orders,” said Cristina Banados, Director of Advocacy at The Retreat. “Now a client can be done with everything within 3 to 4 hours total, rather than spending a whole day in court.”

The Retreat and Brighter Tomorrows, two nonprofits dedicated to addressing and preventing domestic violence, completed training in December for what is called the “Domestic Violence Advocate Assisted Petition Program,” an innovation made possible in part based on grant funding obtained by the Hon. Judy Harris Kluger’s Office of Policy and Planning.

One key feature of the new program is the replacement of manually hand-written documents with data being entered directly into a user-friendly, web-based system integrated with the Family Court’s case management system. Data can be entered with password security by domestic violence advocates from any computer (including from a counseling/advocacy office or safe shelter, places that are often more comfortable to victims than a courthouse). The streamlined process also reduces data-entry for court personnel (saving time and reducing chance for error) and enables judges’ caseloads to flow more swiftly.

“The ability to file a petition at our Touro Law Center office and various other satellite sites has served to relieve our clients of the distraction and anxiety a court setting can often present”, said Dawn Brown, Executive Director of Brighter Tomorrows. “Advocates report that they are better able to establish effective interpersonal relationships with clients, thus allowing the victim to more freely disclose intimate details.”

In the pilot program, The Retreat is partnering/applying the technology with the Riverhead Family Court and Brighter Tomorrows is partnering/applying the technology with the Central Islip Family Court.

About The Retreat and About Brighter Tomorrows

The Retreat, domestic violence services agency, since 1987, has been a community-based, not-for-profit agency that provides domestic violence services and support for victims of domestic crimes on eastern Long Island and beyond. Retreat provides a wide array of direct services, including five core services of Crisis Hotline, Domestic Violence Shelter, Legal Advocacy, Counseling, and Domestic Violence Prevention Education. The Retreat’s mission is to provide safety, shelter and support for victims of domestic abuse and to break the cycle of family violence.

Brighter Tomorrows is a not for profit domestic violence agency that offers supportive services for non-residential and residential clients including but not limited to New York City, Nassau and Suffolk County. Brighter Tomorrows is a non-profit organization that has been assisting women and children of domestic violence for twenty-seven years. Our organization provides a myriad of free services ranging from shelter needs, counseling services, long term transitional housing, bilingual advocacy, support groups, parenting programs and community outreach. Brighter Tomorrows, Inc. believes every individual has the right to live in a safe and nurturing environment that is free from violence.

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