Kymari House in Murfreesboro is one of 19 organizations statewide that was awarded a grant from Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts from the Parent Education and Mediation Fund and the Victim Offender Reconciliation Program of Tennessee.
In all, more than $337,000 in grants were awarded.
"During these times of conflict in our communities and across our nation, our commitment to reconciliation and mediation are more important than ever, and we are pleased to support the mission of these organizations to resolve conflict whether inside or outside the courtroom," Administrative Office of the Courts Director Deborah Taylor Tate said.
The grants help fulfill the Tennessee Judiciary's commitment to access to justice.
The Parent Education and Mediation Fund grant will help Kymari House with its programs for low-income families.
Kymari House serves Cannon and Rutherford counties by providing parent education and administering a court-ordered supervised, therapeutic visitation program for low-income and indigent parties going through a divorce or other custody matter in the 16th or 20th Judicial Districts Juvenile and Circuit Courts.
"These grants are another exciting opportunity for local communities to receive critical funding to provide services and resources that address and eliminate barriers to access to justice for all," Tennessee Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission Chair Bill Coley said. "Organizations across the state are working harder than ever to serve families and children through times of crisis."
VORP recipients operate victim-offender mediation centers or programs providing neutral mediators for victim-offender mediation in felony, misdemeanor, and juvenile delinquent cases free of charge to the participants. These mediation centers provide essential services to families in need.
Both PEMF and VORP funding were established by state law. PEMF is funded through a portion of marriage license fees. The grant money is then awarded as part of Public Chapter 889, known as the Tennessee Parenting Plan Law, which was enacted by the Tennessee General Assembly in 2000. In developing this legislation, the general assembly "recognize[d] the fundamental importance of the parent-child relationship to the welfare of the child, and the relationship between the child and each parent should be fostered unless inconsistent with the child's best interests." (T.C.A. §36-6-401.) The legislation also provided for funding to be distributed by the Administrative Office of the Courts for the purpose of funding the parenting plan requirements in Tennessee.
The Victim Offender Reconciliation Program of Tennessee was sanctioned by the legislature in 1993. A VORP grant recipient must be organized as a nonprofit corporation that helps resolve felony, misdemeanor, and/or juvenile delinquent disputes. The recipient's services are a more informal and less adversarial alternative to court in which persons may voluntarily participate to resolve altercations.