As you may know, the herniated disc I suffered last fall has taken its toll on my ability to participate in courtwatching, as well as other CourtWatch-related activities. At June's board meeting we decided that we would try to find funding that would enable us to hire an executive director who would take on the day-to-day responsibilities of administering the program as well as raising money to pay his/her salary.
If you've ever searched for grants, you know that everyone who is giving away money wants to see a return for their money (rightfully so!). Given the nature of our mission, and the fact that we don't serve clients the same way that other nonprofits do, it has been difficult to find grant funding. We don't have the "deliverables" that funders are looking for. Yet I've been told by many that our presence in the courtroom makes a difference and that what we do is valuable. Unfortunately, it's hard to quantify and therefore it's hard to fund.
We, regrettably, have not had success with finding the funding. It is with much sadness that the Board voted at our December meeting to dissolve CourtWatch.
I will continue to be involved with a new organization, Abuse Intervention Monitoring (AIM) that is currently awaiting its 501(c)(3) approval. AIM's mission is to monitor the Batterers' Intervention Programs (BIPs) to make sure they comply with the regulations set forth by the State of Florida. Effective 7/1/12, BIPs have no government oversight due to funding issues. The Orange County DV Task Force recognized that this would allow untrained and uncertified individuals to offer BIP counseling without proper oversight.
As a result of AIM's presence, both the Ninth (Orange-Osceola) and Eighteenth (Seminole-Brevard) Circuit Chief Judges have issued Administrative Orders allowing only BIP providers that were certified as of 6/30/12 to operate in their jurisdictions. Much work is ahead of us, but this is a crucial step in assuring the Courts and victims that batterers are properly counseled once they've been ordered to complete the program.
As supporters of CourtWatch's mission, I want to thank you for the interest and support you've shown over the past five years. The thousands of volunteer hours, the financial resources, and the words of encouragement have been crucial to helping us in our efforts to hold the justice system accountable. Words are inadequate to express how truly grateful I am for your help.
This blog will remain online to serve as a light for others who seek to create a courtwatch program.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
Justice will only be achieved when those who have not been injured by crime feel as indignant as those who have.