State expands domestic violence services with Sandy aid - NBC40.net

State expands domestic violence services with Sandy aid

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TRENTON -

To ensure that Sandy-impacted families have access to adequate social services, New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) Commissioner Allison Blake announced that the state will use nearly $4.8 million in federal funds to augment some of the state’s domestic violence prevention and treatment programs.

“As we know from previous natural disasters, a family’s ability to cope is often stretched to its limit as they try to recover,” said Commissioner Blake. “These funds will ensure that domestic violence victims made increasingly vulnerable after Sandy have expanded programs and services throughout New Jersey.”

Research and past occurrences indicate that many children and families experience negative psychological and social impacts following disasters. These effects often include an increase in the incidence of domestic violence due to the stress associated with disaster recovery.

“The stress from a disaster can have a long lasting impact on affected families,” said Mary E. O’Dowd, New Jersey Health Commissioner. “The Department of Health and DCF are working collaboratively to ensure that women and children have comprehensive services to support them during recovery.”

“Domestic violence can impact anyone, and people with disabilities - predominantly women - are particularly vulnerable,” said Department of Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez. “This project expands the resources available to individuals who need help and provides recovery tools to help keep them safe in the long term."

The grants will provide alternative housing assistance for victims and children, such as victims who may have had to return to living arrangements where there was previous abuse, or a family that was newly exposed to abuse as a result of the impact of the storm. Additionally, the funding will be used to provide counseling and supportive services to victims and families. Services include safety planning, referrals, case management, financial education, child care and transportation.

Nearly $4 million in funds comes from a federal Social Service Block Grant (SSBG) awarded to New Jersey after Sandy. The additional money is from a Family Violence Prevention Service Act (FVPSA) grant.

New Jersey has at least one domestic violence shelter in each county with a total of twenty-two shelters that provide residential and non-residential services throughout the state.

“Our long-term recovery goal is to effectively and comprehensively enhance prevention and intervention efforts in impacted areas to lessen the negative social impacts Superstorm Sandy may have on our affected residents,” said Commissioner Blake. “Keeping children safe and families strong is essential to New Jersey’s recovery.”

DCF is the state’s agency dedicated to ensuring the safety, well-being and success of children, youth, families and communities. DCF’s Division of Family and Community Partnerships oversees the state’s domestic violence programs. There is at least one DCF-designated lead domestic violence program, including a shelter with a 24-hour hotline and response, in each of New Jersey’s 21 counties. Information and referral, counseling, support groups, financial, legal, housing, children’s services, community education and general advocacy are also provided. To learn more and to view a list of services by county, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dcf/families/dfcp/index.html.

The New Jersey Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The toll-free number is 1-800-572-SAFE (7233).

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