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A rendering of One Safe Place, a new family justice center in San Marcos.
A rendering of One Safe Place, a new family justice center in San Marcos. The center is expected to open by early May. Courtesy photo
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One Safe Place to open in San Marcos

SAN MARCOS — A family justice center for victims of child abuse, domestic violence and human trafficking will soon have a dedicated facility in North County.

One Safe Place is a 44,000 square-foot facility with 54 partners, 30 of whom will be on-site, District Attorney Summer Stephan previously told the Carlsbad City Council. The new North County location, which is tentatively scheduled to open in late April or early May, is located at 1050 Los Vallecitos Road in San Marcos.

Stephan did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication.

One Safe Place will provide a variety of services, such as case management, therapy, restraining orders, housing navigation, child welfare, job placement, clothing and food, transportation, workforce readiness, educational opportunities and immigration services.

The center will also have dedicated spaces for children and teenagers, room for court appearances to mitigate secondary trauma and office space for police officers and Sheriff’s deputies.

Palomar Hospital will also have a presence to aid in certain types of cases and even forensic exams, according to Stephan.

“It will provide services and prevent victims from remaining in cycles of abuse,” Stephan told the council in February. “Unfortunately, I noticed that there is a lack of service for victims of crime in the north region. This has been a dream for 15 years and we began working on this three years ago.”

San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones said the facility covers a wide spectrum of crimes and services but was thrilled with the addition of seniors who are victims of elder abuse. She said elder services are rare and typically not included in such facilities.

“It’s just going to be an amazing place,” Jones added. “Everyone will have an opportunity to come in. If you need help, they’re going to get it for you.”

Currently, there is only one facility in the county, which is currently in the city of San Diego, which has created transportation challenges for self-reporting victims or when paired with law enforcement have been difficult to overcome, Stephan said.

Jones said her office and others mapped out everywhere a victim must go to receive services. The results were service providers and medical care spread across North County. Getting down to San Diego, she added, was too difficult in most cases.

“This is a daunting task,” Stephan said. “For victims of trauma, they’re barely functioning. They’re trying to get through their day. It’s almost an impossibility.”

So, Jones, Supervisor Jim Desmond and others were two of several officials to lobby for a North County location, which in San Marcos provides closer proximity and access to transportation corridors.

Additionally, Carlsbad Councilwoman Priya Bhat-Patel helped the facility receive grant funding through her work with the California Family Justice Center Network. She worked for the justice center network and helped spearhead the grant.

“We do have a lot of cases of domestic violence and trafficking in our community,” Bhat-Patel said. “It’s just a really beautiful space in terms of how government, non-profits and other entities can do good work.”

Meanwhile, Stephan said North County’s domestic violence reports total 27% of all in the county, between 42% to 46% of domestic violence homicides, 27% of child abuse and neglect referrals and 42% of all Behavioral Health Services’ clients are from North County.

According to Stephan, domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness among mothers with children — more than 80% of homeless mothers previously experienced domestic violence. Stephan said 38% of all domestic violence victims become homeless at some point, while between 22% and 57% of all homeless women reported domestic violence was the immediate cause of their homelessness.

“Unfortunately, abuse is on the rise,” Jones said. “It’s definitely needed in North County and I’m glad we really had a place to locate it. It’s strategically located so everyone can have access.”