Council unanimously passes Queens lawmaker’s bill to ensure quality services for domestic violence survivors

The New York City Council unanimously passed Queens City Councilman Rory Lancman’s bill on Jan. 23 requiring the Mayor’s Office to end domestic and gender based violence to provide individuals receiving services at Family Justice Centers with service satisfaction surveys.

The Committee on Women formally considered the legislation, Intro. 542, in October 2018 and passed it on Jan. 23.

“Domestic violence and abuse survivors deserve our full support to help them in their time of need.” said Lancman. “Client feedback is essential to ensure that Family Justice Centers continue to provide effective and efficient services. My legislation will allow Family Justice Centers and survivors to work collaboratively to improve services and set priorities.”

The satisfaction surveys, which are not mandatory and will remain anonymous, enable survivors to indicate which FJC services are useful, which need to be altered, and what changes must be made to better assist them. The city is required to submit an annual report to the Council of survey questions asked and all survey data, broken down by borough and type of service received.

Lancman’s legislation comes as domestic and gender-based violent crime rates have remained resistant to the steady reduction of the overall crime rate in the city. In 2017, the NYPD responded to more than 108, 821 intimate-partner related domestic violence abuse, a 16 percent increase from the previous year.

New York City Family Justice Centers provide legal services, counseling, job training, and housing assistance to survivors of domestic abuse, human trafficking and elder abuse in all five boroughs. In 2017, the Family Justice Centers served 62,645 individuals.

“As the nation’s largest victim assistance organization, Safe Horizon acutely recognizes that survivors’ experience with systems and service providers designed to address their needs should be periodically evaluated to ensure that the highest quality of care is being consistently delivered,” said Michael Polenberg, vice president of Government Affairs at Safe Horizon. “Council Member Rory Lancman’s legislation, Intro. 542, will require service satisfaction surveys are available to New Yorkers who visit any of the City’s five Family Justice Centers and can help make sure that services are aligned with their safety needs.”

Alisha Bailey, DV Survivor and Alternatives to Incarceration Counselor at The Fortune Society, said collecting feedback will “hopefully lead to more informed decision making.”

“Evaluating and reflecting on how a program is performing from the perspective of the participants is a critical tool for identifying opportunities for improvement as well as ways to capitalize on existing strengths, said Bailey. “At The Fortune Society, we hope this law will translate into better participant engagement, longer retention rates, and healthier, safer communities.”

Stephanie Nilva, executive director of Day One, which partners with youth to end dating abuse and domestic violence, believes that young people can provide valuable contributions to the efficacy of city services to address their unique needs.

“Day One applauds today’s City Council vote requiring the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender Based Violence to provide satisfaction surveys to constituents at the Family Justice Centers,” said Nilva. “Critically important services are delivered in the five FJCs, and feedback from survivors should play a central role in their operation.”