Tulsa County Family Justice Center is Under Budget

Courtesy Selser Schaeffer Architects
OPENING SOON: The Tulsa County Family Justice Center is scheduled to open later this year. It was designed by Selser Schaeffer Architects and built by Crossland Construction Co.

It has been 69 years since the Tulsa County Juvenile Court first occupied its current facility. In 1968 a center was built to house the courts and the programs for the juvenile justice system. For all those years, the mission has been to improve the lives and futures of the youth and families it serves through prevention, diversion, intervention and empowerment..
Even as the population of Tulsa County has grown and the demands upon the juvenile justice system have increased, the facilities remained virtually the same for almost five decades. Meeting this challenge began in 2014 when the Board of County Commissioners and Juvenile Court Presiding Judge Doris Fransein presented to the voters of Tulsa County a visionary plan for a new facility. Thankfully, the voters of Tulsa County responded by overwhelmingly approving the funding of a new Family Justice Center (FJC).
The new facility, opening later this year, is coming in under budget at approximately $42 million dollars. The new FJC will increase the total square footage from the current 38,000 to 151,000. This expansion will provide space for more courtrooms, jury rooms, restrooms, parking, training facilities, and state of the art security.
Besides the increase in the size of the facility, it’s important to recognize that over the years the types of services which juveniles and families need from the juvenile justice system has changed dramatically. Because of that, the new facility has been designed to provide for the latest state of the art intervention services. The new facility will have additional space for the Department of Human Services, offices for mediation services, separate victim advocacy office areas, forensic observation rooms, more programing space for juveniles in detention, and extra classrooms and library space.
In addition to the court related services, the juvenile court is also responsible for a juvenile detention center when it is necessary to provide shelter services to juveniles. The new detention facility is a 24-hour-a-day secure custody operation for temporarily holding youth pending court hearings or other placements. Youth are required to attend school classes offered by Tulsa Public Schools while in detention. The detention center has a full time Registered Nurse and a part time physician to attend to the capacity of 55 youth.
There is a very important reason why the new facility is named the Family Justice Center and not the Juvenile Court Center. Inside the walls of the new FJC aren’t just children who may have caused trouble but who may be the victims. Children, who through no fault of their own, are in a dysfunctional and sometimes dangerous family that can cause abuse and neglect. Children who need protection and families that need support, help, and the intervention of the professional staff at the FJC.
At the end of 2018 there were approximately 1,050 active deprived cases involving more than 1,800 children. Ninety-four percent were removed from the home due to abuse or neglect. The average age is six years old. At the new FJC there will be a Family Treatment Court (FTC) which is a partnership with the Dept. of Mental Health, Centers for Therapeutic Interventions, and DHS. FTC is a non-adversarial, parallel specialty court that combines judiciary aspects with treatment, social services and education.
The opening of the new Family Justice Center is just another example of the citizens of Tulsa showing their support for the youngest and most vulnerable of our citizens when they need us. So, thank you Tulsa County voters for making this possible.