Middlesex County Domestic Violence Organization Receives $ 1 Million Federal Grant

Women Aware, one of the leading domestic violence agencies in Middlesex County, recently received an unprecedented $ 1 million grant from the US Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) to fund the establishment of the Middlesex County Family Justice Center (FJC).

This is the organization’s first OVW grant, its goal being to create a coordinated response to domestic violence, said Maria Betanzos, director of operations for Women Aware. Grant funding will provide four years for the organization to work in partnership with first responders, justice, lawyers, medical teams, forensics, social services and more, to respond to every victim.

Betanzos said she was delighted and looking forward to receiving a grant of this nature, as it will greatly contribute to the organization’s efforts.

“This grant is very special because it offers a chance to change the community’s response to domestic violence,” she said. “The grant represents an investment in how we envision our collective response to domestic violence in our county and create a better system for survivors.

Betanzos said the organization recognizes the diversity of Middlesex County and wants the grant to serve everyone, especially as the FJC will be the first of its kind in Middlesex County and the fifth in the state. .

She also said that as a centralized resource, the FJC will benefit other organizations and programs. For example, survivors of domestic violence in Middlesex County will have access to training, community education and support through the center.

Betanzos said Women Aware was chosen over similar organizations because of their practice model developed over the past three years with the help of consultants. She also said Women Aware was trusted to provide equal and accessible services to survivors and their families.

“We received technical assistance from consultants, the Alliance for HOPE International, as we prepared to establish the (FJC),” she said. “The OVW has recognized all of the work we have done and the sustainable plan we have created to improve the way Middlesex County serves survivors. More than 12 departmental partners have agreed to support us in this project.

The funds will support the physical space of the FJC, Betanzos said, including rent and parking, and will also be used to create two new positions: a director of legal resources and a hospitality specialist.

“The funds (will also allow) to brand the FJC and develop a website,” she said.

Betanzos said the grant will be paid over a total of four years, which began on October 1 and ends on September 30, 2025.

The first year will focus on planning and writing the FJC blueprint and hiring staff, subsequent years focusing on further partner growth and the goal of becoming an affiliate FJC of the Alliance for HOPE International, she said.

“Where we are today serving survivors is not where we want to be in four years,” Betanzos said. “This funding sows the seed to bring all services for survivors on site under one roof. This funding advances our vision of providing a fully coordinated response to domestic violence in our county. “

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