by Corrine Casanova
One of our nation’s oldest judicial membership organizations is headquartered in Reno. In fact, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), will soon be celebrating its 81st year. An affiliate of the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) since 1969, their mission is to provide all judges, courts and related agencies involved with juvenile, family and domestic violence cases with the knowledge, research and skills to improve the lives of the families and children who seek justice. Their areas of focus are diverse.
NCJFCJ Focus Areas:
child abuse and neglect
When it comes to education for judges, knowledge is power. The NCJFCJ aims to build stronger communities through their work with the judicial system. While this organization is national in nature, local Nevadans see the benefits in more than one way. For starters, there’s an immediate economic impact both locally and statewide. Joey Orduna Hastings, Chief Executive Officer, NCJFCJ, explained, “The judges and the people we bring in for trainings comprise a $16 million impact to the state every year. People travel here, stay in our hotel rooms, while our 60 local employees contribute to our local economy. Last year we had 24 successful grants to the tune of over $11 million. Those monies come right back into the state of Nevada. We also hold two national conferences annually. Beginning next year, we hope to hold our annual National Conference on Juvenile Justice in Nevada permanently. In June, we have the Child Abuse and Neglect Institute which is held in Reno every year.”
The NCJFCJ is creating an environment where broken families can be mended and put back together. In 2017, for their 80th anniversary, they used the hashtag #EveryCourtEveryChild to help promote their efforts and improve the day-to-day lives of children by simplifying the court process. One Family/One Judge, No Wrong Door and Equal and Coordinated Access to Justice is at the cornerstone of their philosophy. They want judges to receive guidance for supporting the needs of families and children no matter which pathway brings the child or family to the door of the courtroom.
Hastings explained, “We want every child to have an opportunity to succeed. And with that, there is no wrong door. So, if a child finds themselves in a courthouse, we want to express to them that one judge will hear their case. If the child’s family has other issues, that same judge will hear their case. That way, that child won’t be potentially re-traumatized by going in front of a new judge to re-explain a traumatizing situation. This way every child can be given the opportunity to have a fair case. We want to make sure every child gets to experience a healthy court environment so that he or she may lead a healthy life.”
The NCJFCJ serves nearly 30,000 juvenile and family court professionals across the nation. Their current membership is now at 1,600 and continues to grow each year. In 2017, they trained more than 11,500 judges, judicial officers, attorneys and other juvenile and family court-related professionals in 41 different states including Washington, D.C.
Dutch Bros. Coffee is a business partnership that gave the NCJFCJ a much-needed perk. Hastings explained how the relationship developed, “I have family in Oregon where Dutch Bros. started and was a regular at their stand in Carson City when I worked with Governor Sandoval. Curiously enough, because the NCJFCJ is so heavily federally funded, we cannot purchase coffee or refreshments for our events with government funding. For some of us, coffee puts us in a better mood. Considering we train thousands of people annually across the country, I approached Dutch Bros. about establishing a partnership with their foundation, Love Abounds. I asked if they could provide us with coffee as we go out to courts in Nevada and other states. They said ‘yes’ and now we ship Keurig coffee makers and K-Cup pods filled with Dutch Bros. coffee to our trainings.” Today, Dutch Bros. is the “official” coffee of the NCJFCJ.
The NCJFCJ also offers other businesses to assist them by donating unrestricted revenue so they can expand the work they do through scholarships. To learn more about the NCJFCJ, visit ncjfcj.org.