Family Justice Center raised $100K+ at virtual gala, thanks sponsors

New trauma center opens to help with pandemic’s underlying issues

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA — Life was already chock full of day-to-day challenges, and the seemingly never-ending COVID-19 pandemic has only made it worse.

For those bearing the brunt of violence and combating mental illness, the past 15 months have been all the more unbearable.

To aid these individuals, the Family Justice Center launched a new Contra Costa Trauma Recovery Center (TRC) in partnership with the California Victim Compensation Board and Familias Unidas. The TRC will provide trauma-informed mental health treatment and case management to crime victims.

An $800,000 grant will make services accessible until June 30, 2023, at locations in Concord, Antioch and Richmond. Staff will include two full-time clinicians supervised and supported by a part-time clinical director, a program manager who is also a licensed clinician, a part-time psychologist and a contract psychiatrist. Two part-time Family Justice navigators and a network of more than 60 partners will support the clinical team.

The center will provide trauma-informed mental health counseling, psychiatric evaluation and medication management, and clinical case management to victims of violent crimes of all ages, without barriers and at no cost to recipients.

“It will fill a severely unmet need for mental health services for uninsured, low-income and undocumented county residents who lack access to mental health treatment,” said executive director Susun Kim. “The CCTRC will be modeled after the proven University of California San Francisco Trauma Recovery Center.”

Help within seven days

TRC’s focus will be outreach and assistance to crime victims who typically are unable to access traditional services, including the chronically mentally ill, immigrants/refugees, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community, people of diverse ethnicity or origin and juveniles. The center will provide services to all survivors of violent crimes, including sexual assault, domestic violence, battery, gun and gang violence and human trafficking.

The work a lone staffer handled in the past year illustrates the dire need for the services. Kim noted the current trilingual therapist, who is on contract, saw about 250 clients in 2020. About 30 percent of the clients were from Central County. The therapist held almost all sessions via phone, with a few exceptions to see certain clients in person.

When someone contacts TRC, a screening is the first step to determine if the individual is a victim of violent crime, including interpersonal violence, and to confirm whether the person needs mental health services. A “yes” to both questions initiates contact with a clinician/center manager within 48 hours. The center manager will then perform a clinical assessment and assign the case to one of the two clinicians. The client should begin therapy within seven days of the initial assessment.

Once the treatment plan is in place, the team will identify any case management needs and work with one of the Family Justice navigators to address any further support services required.

As part of TRC’s mission, Kim expects law enforcement to contact them when officers come upon cases that fall under its focus. She said law enforcement agencies refer about 25 percent of the clients, and TRC will be conducting outreach presentations to law enforcement partners.

“Even though the economy is opening up and people are going back to work, there are a lot of underlying health issues,” said Kim. “Abuse victims in a number of cases chose to live in the home of their abusers because that is all they had during COVID.”