News & Announcements


Posted on: September 8, 2023

City of Billings puts Families First by Starting the Planning Process for a Family Justice Center

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The Billings YWCA welcomes Casey Gwinn and the team from the Family Justice Center Alliance, a program of Alliance for HOPE International, on September 19 and 20 for a Family Justice Center Strategic Planning Event.

Casey Gwinn is the President of Alliance for HOPE International and one of the visionaries of the rapidly expanding Family Justice Center movement. The YWCA and City of Billings has invited the Alliance team to continue the planning process for a Family Justice Center to help survivors of family violence and their families get the resources and support they need in one location – bringing together police officers, prosecutors, advocates, therapists, civil attorneys, community volunteers, and many others.

“As the community gets bigger, the issues only get harder and more complicated. This is the time.” – Chris Kukulski, City Administrator

“This is a wonderful opportunity to help so many people that don’t know what to do or how to get support.” – Survivor and Billings Community Member

The first Family Justice Center was created in San Diego, California in 2002 through a partnership between the San Diego City Attorney and the San Diego Police Department. It evolved out of a collaborative relationship between community-based domestic violence agencies and criminal justice professionals. The model has since been identified as a best practice in the field of domestic violence intervention and prevention by the U.S. Department of Justice and endorsed by many local and state agencies and elected officials.

“Without a question, Billings is uniquely positioned to move forward in the development of a Family Justice Center. The need is clear, the commitment of key partner agencies to participate in the model is strong, and key leaders all appear to support the emerging vision for a Family Justice Center.” – President, Alliance for HOPE International, Casey Gwinn

The documented and published outcomes from the Family Justice Center model have included: reduced homicides; increased victim safety; increased autonomy and empowerment for victims; reduced fear and anxiety for victims and their children; increased efficiency and coordination among service providers; and reduced recantation and minimization by victims when wrapped in services and support; increased prosecution of offenders; and dramatically increased community support services to victims and their children. (See Casey Gwinn & Gael Strack, Dream Big: A Simple, Complicated Idea to Stop Family Violence other outcomes posted online in the Alliance’s resource library at

This Strategic Planning event is the next step in the planning process for a Family Justice Center. The Alliance team visited Billings on June 25 and 26 for a study tour. Their participation created momentum for the development of a Family Justice Center by bringing local elected officials, policy makers, and government and community-based agencies together to start the planning process for a co-located service facility in Billings. The results of the study tour were presented in a report to the FJC planning team.

Significant progress has been made since the study tour visit and now more than 80 community leaders and survivors are planning the future of co-located services in Billings.

“This Strategic Planning Meeting will help make the Billings dream for a Family Justice Center become a reality. It is so encouraging to see all the stakeholders come together to DREAM BIG as they create a shared vision just for Billings. The Strategic Plan will be for five years but the outcomes will last a lifetime.” – Gael Strack, CEO, Alliance for HOPE International

To learn more about the Billings Family Justice Center project please contact Ellie Stanton, AmeriCorps VISTA at the Billings Police Department by clicking here


About Alliance for HOPE International

Alliance for HOPE International (Alliance) operates the Family Justice Center Alliance, the Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention, Camp HOPE America, the Justice Legal Network, and the VOICES Survivor Network. Casey Gwinn and Gael Strack, the Founders of the Alliance, launched the nationally recognized San Diego Family Justice Center in 2002. The San Diego Family Justice Center was featured on Oprah and was the inspiration for the President's Family Justice Center Initiative in 2003. At the request of the U.S. Department of Justice, Casey Gwinn and his team were asked to take a leadership role to support new and developing Family Justice Centers across the country. Within two short years, the Alliance team helped open 15 federally funded Family Justice Centers. Today, there are more than 110 operational Centers in the United States with international Centers in over 20 countries. There are over 100 Centers currently developing in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Central America.