Travis County Family Law Center

Travis County Family Law Center

During the 1980's, juvenile court authorities in
Travis County recognized that an expanding county population and changing court practices required the provision of a greater variety of court-related services than were available at the time.  Court officials hoped to resolve the difficulties that had arisen over the years as a result of unplanned growth in the various service divisions of the Travis County Juvenile Court - Detention, Intake, Delinquency Prevention, Probation, Courts and Administrative Services.  These divisions were remotely located, and services were perceived to be fragmented.  Physical facilities, especially in residential detention, were a continuing source of problems since space was severely limited and did not accommodate evolving needs.

In response to these circumstances, the county Juvenile Board authorized a comprehensive planning effort to assess current detention and court practices, project future needs and establish a unified course of action for juvenile justice operations.  Specific priorities included the development of (1) a flexible system of services responsive to the needs of juveniles at various stages of the court process, (2) new residential facilities to permit enhanced daily programming, and (3) improved access and communication between each of the court divisions.

The Travis County Juvenile Justice Master Plan identified the need for expanded intake, new shelter care, and expanded detention and courts capabilities. It proposed development of a new Family Law Center, a single juvenile justice complex providing for all court and detention- related functions.  An architectural and operational program detailing space requirements and operational priorities for all court and detention divisions was completed along with conceptual plans illustrating desired building and site organization.  This information served as the basis for funding and design activities resulting in the completion of the Gardner-Betts Family Law Center with detention, courts, shelter and probation components in 1989.