JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — PorchLight Family Justice Center in Jefferson County is giving victims of abuse the help they need. It's served more than 700 people since opening in February.
Instead of going to different locations for services, victims can find dozens of organizations in one building.
"It takes all of the different community providers that we have that provide services to victims of crime and it brings them together in one location," PorchLight Executive Director Candace Cooledge said.
Cooledge said they serve victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, crimes against children, elder abuse and human trafficking. In one spot, there's a network of services with a mission to reduce violence. It makes it easier for victims to get the help they need.
If a person is a victim of violence, the family is usually referred to many agencies in the community to receive help. PorchLight brings those services together in one spot, minimizing travel, applications, time off work and child care needs.
More than 75 partner agencies work together to provide services such as safety planning, public benefits, and housing for victims and survivors.
Counselors and therapists are available on-site to support adults and kids. Specialized prosecutors also work in the building.
"Prior to Porchlight, they had to come to the courts, so they would worry about seeing their abusers in the hallway," Senior Deputy District Attorney Chandler Grant said. "We have seen victims be much more involved and much more relaxed through the judicial process due to the environment PorchLight provides."
There does not need to be a criminal case to get help, and all services are free to the victim or survivor.
Cooledge said a community's domestic violence homicide rate drops by 50%, on average, whenever a center like this opens.
"We are here to support them whenever they are ready to make that incredibly difficult decision," she said.
Inside the center, there is a recorded interview room for law enforcement. It provides a warm and welcoming space for victims to report a crime rather than having to file a report at a police station.
The center also built a salon, where stylists donate their time to help boost a victim's confidence.
"When they leave, you can see their confidence change," Cooledge said. "It's the little things that are so important that make such a big difference. The environment makes a world of a difference."
Porchlight Family Justice Center is located at 11100 W. 8th Avenue, Suite 200, in Lakewood. It's open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. No appointment is necessary.
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