Mayor’s Office on Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Prevention
Domestic violence and the growing presence of commercial human trafficking are threats to public safety and quality of life in our community. The statistics paint a grim picture:
- On average, domestic violence accounts for nearly 30 percent of Rockford’s violent crime.
- In 2016, Illinois ranked eighth in the United States for reported human trafficking cases, with Rockford ranking second in the state, behind Chicago.
- The City of Rockford Human Services Department reports that an average of 25 percent of our homeless population were without a residence as a result of domestic violence.
Mayor Tom McNamara spoke in great length about these issues during his campaign in 2016-17 and took action following his election in April 2017. To learn more about the current conditions, investigate regional and national best practices and propose solutions, he commissioned a report on both issues of domestic violence and human trafficking (DV/HT). That report was presented to City Council in October 2017, along with the recommendation to establish a Mayor’s Office on Domestic Violence & Human Trafficking Prevention. The City Council approved that recommendation several weeks later and a search began for an individual to lead the office.
In January 2018, Jennifer Cacciapaglia was hired as manager of the office. She is an experienced attorney, former member of the City Legal Department and a founder of the Rockford Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (RAASE). The Office brings together the work of numerous agencies and organizations throughout the community to collectively tackle the problems of domestic violence and human trafficking. The office created a Task Force, made up of key stakeholders, to shape the work of the office.
The Task Force has already developed many strategies including:
- Family Peace Center– The Family Peace Center is a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary co-located service center that provides integrated services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Both public and private partner agencies assign staff on a full-time or part-time basis to provide services from one location.
- Juvenile Enhanced Response Team (JVERT)– JVERT is a multi-disciplinary team that identifies children in trauma from violence in the home and develop pathways to restoration and safety so they do not become involved in the criminal justice system, either as a victim or perpetrator.
- Domestic Violence Enhanced Response Team (DVERT)– DVERT is a nationally recognized model of intervention that places an emphasis on identifying and providing coordinated, multi-disciplinary responses to high-priority/high-risk domestic violence cases.
- Educator Team– The Educator team plans the annual Educators’ Summit, which is designed to educate local teachers about domestic violence and human trafficking and provide teachers with tools to implement in their classrooms.
- VOICES Survivor Support Group– VOICES is a committee of survivors of domestic violence who volunteer their time to celebrate their strength and survival. This group of individuals use their collective voice to help others through advocacy, education and empowerment.