DCF Press Release

State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Charlie Crist

George H. Sheldon

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Sarrah Troncoso
October 13, 2008 850-488-4855

Children and Families Awards $3 Million to Domestic Violence Centers
~ Grant dollars highlight growing need across the state for additional shelter capacity ~

      TALLAHASSEE, FLA. - Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon announced the award of $3 million today to six of Florida's certified domestic violence centers. Shelters serving Broward, Citrus, Lake, Manatee, Marion, Orange, and Sumter counties will all receive Capital Improvement Grants to fund construction, repairs and improvements to increase shelter capacity for victims fleeing domestic violence.

      The grants, awarded annually, will provide for 120 more beds to be added to the tally of 1,818 beds currently serving victims and their families statewide. In fiscal year 2007-2008 domestic violence shelters in Florida provided emergency shelter to more than 14,000 women, children and men. Centers also responded to more than 149,000 hotline calls and provided more than 431,000 hours of counseling to survivors of domestic violence. Florida has added 426 shelter beds since 2000 through Capital Improvement Grant funding.

      "These centers are a source of hope and refuge for thousands of victims and their families throughout the state," said Secretary Sheldon. "It's vital we keep them open and functioning well especially now because we know that during tough economic times, instances of domestic violence increase and more families will be in need. We must ensure there is a place for them to turn for help."

      In 2007-2008, state certified domestic violence centers reported victims and their families were staying an average of five to 30 days beyond the normal six-week stay. In some instances, survivors stayed at shelters for as long as six months to one year. Each center is designed to provide temporary emergency shelter for a standard length of stay of at least 43 days. However, in the current economic conditions, it may take survivors much longer to secure safe and affordable housing. The lack of affordable housing and the time needed to save for a first and last month's rent payment, utility deposit, or other costs associated with moving to a new residence, can force survivors to stay in emergency shelter. Florida's shelters were over capacity last year by 1,261 individuals and more than 5,000 persons stayed in alternate accommodations because there was no available space in the shelters.

      Florida's 42 certified domestic violence centers provide various intervention and prevention services to support victims and their families. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse please call the toll-free phone number at the Florida Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-500-1119 or TTY number 1-800-621-4202. All calls and services are confidential.

      For more information on the Florida Department of Children and Families Domestic Violence Program office visit http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/domesticviolence/.

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