Mobility Managers Partner with Family Justice Center

Description

Service: Transportation for Families experiencing Domestic Violence

Provider Organization: Embark

Funders: Palomar Family Justice Center

Other Partners: Universities, District Attorney, Sheriff’s Office, Animal Shelter

In 2015, social worker Kim Garrett worked at the victim’s services unit at the Oklahoma City Police Department. After seeing families struggle around Oklahoma City, she and the police chief founded the family justice center model to bring agencies together in one location.

At the NCMM 2023 Forum, Palomar Chief Visionary Officer and Founder Kim Garrett delivered a keynote presentation on what partnerships can accomplish. Palomar, a Family Justice Center for individuals and families experiencing domestic violence, works closely with mobility managers to provide lifelines to their clients.  

The problem

The Oklahoma City Police Department (OCPD) received 35,999 calls for domestic violence to 911 in 2022. Survivors from each of these calls might need services from multiple agencies from sites located around the city, presenting logistical challenges.

Garrett and her team knew that it was time consuming for clients to book individual appointments, which could be inadvertently setting clients up for failure. They quantified this hurdle by calculating the total distance and amount of time it would take for a client to travel from a home in Northwest Oklahoma City to visit six different provider locations. “What was shocking was when we did the bus mapping, we saw that it took 14 hours and 40 min. for our families to access these basic resources,” she said. “It just made sense to bring them all together in one location.”

A Solution

The family justice center provides survivors with whatever resources they want and need. With their hospitality model, clients are welcomed with free food and asked how they could be made comfortable. There are then given the option to meet with a case manager to identify their goals and priorities. Palomar also has a children’s sanctuary, a free safe space for kids to be supervised while their parents access services.

When the center opened, Garrett and her team were spending a significant portion of their budget funding Ubers and Lyfts for families to access services. After Palomar reached out to the OCPD for help, the chief bought a minivan and hired retired police officers to pick up survivors wherever they were and take them to their destinations free of charge, no questions asked. “We felt that it was really important to get people connected with services, knowing that it was a huge barrier, and literally could have been the difference between life and death for some families,” Garrett said.

Location

As retired police officers, the drivers were able to assess safety when picking up clients and identify needs to support security planning. After a year and a half, the team outgrew this system and partnered with Embark, Oklahoma City’s public transit agency. In the first year of their partnership, Embark provided 600 transports to Palomar’s clients. Four years later, that number tripled. The Embark team is now purchasing a second van to support the growing demand.

Currently, the van’s driver manages rides using an iPad installed in the vehicle, connected to a spreadsheet. Embark recently received an Innovative Coordinated Access and Mobility Grant (ICAM) from the Federal Transit Administration, which will enable them to install software that will comingle their data securely beginning next year.

Palomar has grown from having 15 partner agencies to 42 after six years. “We listen to survivors and we hear what they need. So we keep growing to meet the needs of our community,” said Garrett.

Today, Palomar’s diverse partners include universities, an animal welfare agency, the district attorney and sheriff’s offices, and infant crisis services that help provide diapers and formulas. Partners wrap around clients to provide them necessary support. One client, Garrett reflected, arrived at the center after having been strangled. She needed medical care but was concerned about how her child would be picked up from school. Palomar’s driver, provided by transit partner Embark, went with a police officer to pick the child up at school while the client went to a hospital with a forensic nurse.

For more information about Palomar and how they’ve developed strong partnerships, contact:

Kim Garrett-Funk: 405.552.1004, Kim.garrett@palomarokc.or

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