Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $255,000)
Women’s Rights Information Center (WRIC) proposes to implement a legal assistance program to provide free legal advice, counsel, and representation to low-income victims of crime in Bergen County. Very few survivors receive help in the aftermath of crime. According to the Alliance for Safety and Justice, the second most needed, but unmet, service is help in understanding the courts and legal system. The most direct way to help more survivors is by bringing in more attorneys and legal advocates. WRIC’s goal is to ensure full access to equal justice for those who cannot pay legal fees because of poverty or because their access to financial resources is often controlled by their abusers/perpetrators. Without legal advocacy and representation, many victims will go to court unrepresented, with potentially disastrous results. WRIC will hire legal staff who will inform victims of their rights and protections, and provide legal representation for Restraining Orders, hearings for relief related to victimization, and for issues related to separation, divorce, child and spousal support, parenting time, housing, and employment. WRIC will expand outreach to the community, partnering agencies, and underserved populations, including immigrants and those whose first language is not English, in order to increase visibility and public knowledge about its enhanced legal assistance program.