Friends of the Children’s Justice Center calls for fundraising push
The Friends of the Children’s Justice Center, the nonprofit organization formed to secure a standalone facility for the Summit County Children’s Justice Center, is pleading with the community for help.
The organization, formerly known as the Community for Children’s Justice, is desperately trying to raise $800,000 before Sept. 1 to pay off the mortgage for the property that will serve as the new location for the Children’s Justice Center. The property, located on Silver Summit Parkway, was purchased in October.
Friends of the Children’s Justice Center is in the middle of a capital campaign to raise money to cover the necessary renovations to make the facility operational and create an endowment. The mortgage needs to be paid in order to start the renovations, said Harry Kirschner, vice president of the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center.
“We are pushing really hard right now to raise the money,” he said. “Our timeline is very urgent. The case load continues to grow as our community grows so the pressure is mounting. Our caseload has increased just since we purchased the new home.”
Summit County’s Children’s Justice Center provides critical services to children who have been victimized by abuse, as well as their families. It is part of the Utah Attorney General’s Office’s Children’s Justice Program and operates under the auspices of the county attorney’s office. Operation of the Children’s Justice Center is funded by the Summit County and Park City governments, as well as the Utah Legislature, federal grants and private donations.
The Children’s Justice Center is currently located in the Sheldon Richins Building in Kimball Junction next to the state Division of Motor Vehicles office, which officials say does not afford victims and their families the privacy that is necessary and limits the number of services that can be provided. It is the only center in the state that does not operate out of a separate, standalone facility.
Friends of the Children’s Justice Center has raised a little more than $1 million toward the $2.7 million campaign.
“The nice thing about this is it is a one-time capital campaign,” Kirschner said. “The operation of Children’s Justice Center is completely funded. We also have a lease agreement with the county where they are going to cover all operating and maintenance costs. We are only responsible for the major capital repairs.”
The mortgage is not due until October. But, the county needs to take over the current Children’s Justice Center site to provide office space for the new mental health provider, the University of Utah Health Care Plans. The county agreed to lease the space as part of the contract with the University of Utah, which goes into effect in September.
Kirschner, though, did not lament the decision. He said the county has significantly stepped up to help the organization get the facility up and running, especially financially. The county has contributed $250,000. However, he was frustrated that City Hall has not made similar contributions.
“They have been pretty disappointing,” he said. “We have been asking the city for support for two years now. The Children’s Justice Center’s support includes a substantial number of clients from the (84)060 area code. But, we’ve been told all the money is earmarked for Treasure and the various open space and trail projects, which certainly have their merits. But, this is a relatively small investment to support a huge need for victims. We expect the city to step up and make that happen.”
Park City Mayor Andy Beerman said he, along with the Park City Council, strongly supports the mission of the Children’s Justice Center. He said city officials are actively working with the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center to help with their funding needs.
“This is a critical service,” he said. “The city and the county are finding ways to support it. But, it is also really important for the residents of our community to do the same.”
Margaret Olson, Summit County attorney, said she has been working with Beerman and the Park City Council to find a way for City Hall to financially contribute to the campaign.
“As is often the case with local government, finding a pile of cash to spend is difficult,” she said. “But, I have been working with Park City to find imaginative, out-of-the box creative ways for the city to help make it happen.”
Olson stressed the importance of the community’s support as well.
“The Children’s Justice Centers in Utah are set up to have federal, state and local government support,” she said. “But, a fourth and equal partner is the community. We are asking our community to come forward and help our CJC find a permanent private home where children and their families can be served and sheltered in their moment of most acute crisis.”
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A public hearing regarding Summit County’s $50 million open space bond is scheduled Wednesday in Coalville. Officials hope to hear from those who live on the East Side.