Authored By: Jeff Hahn, Program Director, Family Tree Legal Advocacy Program
Last February, with the opening of PorchLight, a Family Justice Center, Family Tree was able to move our Domestic Violence Outreach and Legal Advocacy Programs to become a part of the wrap-around services available to survivors at the center. Family Tree Legal Advocacy program wanted to share some exciting updates that have taken place since this move.
This past year has been quite the transition for the Legal Advocacy Program. But through the pandemic and our move to the PorchLight Family Justice Center, we could not be more excited. We are honored to be celebrating domestic violence awareness month for the first time in our new location.
We are thrilled to have partnered with PorchLight Family Justice Center to streamline the services we offer to our clients. The largest impact for our clients, is the ability to obtain a protection order from a new virtual court platform from the comfort of PorchLight.
Survivors who are experiencing domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault are able to come to PorchLight Family Justice Center and meet with legal advocacy staff in a quiet, comfortable, trauma informed environment to discuss their situation.
Legal advocates are able to provide information and assistance by helping survivors complete applications for a civil temporary protection order, if the survivor feels it is the best option for them. Once the application is completed, legal advocates electronically file the application with the courts, a court clerk then sends it to the Judge in charge of hearing protection order matters, all while the survivor is able to be supported by our staff in a client room.
When the judge is ready to hear survivors’ stories, they go in the “virtual protection order court room” where they can provide the reasons for the request of the protection order in a trauma informed setting, using a webcam. This greatly reduces the stress and pressure the survivors feel from the typical court room setting and allows them to be more focused and calm while explaining the traumatic events they have experienced at the hands of the abuser.
If the Judge agrees a protection should be issued for the survivor, the Judge signs the protection order and sends it back electronically to our legal advocates at PorchLight. Advocates print the order, make copies and share it with the Sheriff’s Office, streamlining the process with no need to travel around to multiple locations.
Legal advocates may also connect survivors with a multitude of resources all under one roof at PorchLight. Whether they need to connect to group support with Family Tree Domestic Violence Outreach Team or to find a place to put their family pet while they transition away from their abuser, it is all available at PorchLight. There are 70 plus community partners whom have joined with PorchLight to provide wraparound services to survivors.
PorchLight is only the second family justice center in the State of Colorado and is the only family justice center that offers virtual protection order hearings from the safety and security of a trauma informed environment. Family Tree Legal Advocacy team members are grateful to be a part of the streamlined process for our clients.
The opening of PorchLight is certainly something to celebrate during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If you, a family member or loved one is experiencing domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, there is help and support available . Please reach out to Family Tree Legal Advocacy Program or PorchLight Family Justice Center at (303) 271-6100.