CCADV Calls on State to Fund Child Advocates to Support Children Who Witness Domestic Violence

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Last year 4,600 children walked through the doors of Connecticut’s 18 domestic violence organizations. Nearly 1,000 of those kids, most 6 years or younger, stayed in a domestic violence shelter with a parent. While their needs vary, they were all experiencing trauma and required the support and guidance of a child and family advocate within each domestic violence organization. Unfortunately services to these children are negatively impacted by a lack of funding that is limited to supporting .3 FTE (full-time employee) at each of the 18 sites. Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) is calling on the state to fully fund these critical positions.

“The existing funding structure means that, without raising additional private funds, each child and family advocate can only provide 2.4 hours of service per child annually,” said Karen Jarmoc, chief executive officer, CCADV. “Children are the most vulnerable victims that we serve and they deserve a fully-funded, dedicated position that can provide them with the comprehensive, holistic services they need. An average of 2.4 hours of service per child is simply inadequate.”

Currently there is no dedicated state funding provided in Connecticut for child and family advocates at domestic violence organizations. Federal pass-through funding provided by the CT Office of Policy and Management (OPM) in the amount of $11,500 per site covers approximately one-third of the cost of a full-time advocate. Considering that 4,632 children were served across the state in fiscal year 2019 and that funding was provided for .3 full-time advocate at each local domestic violence organization, the current funding structure only allows each child and family advocate to provide 2.4 hours of service to each child annually.

Child and family advocates within the state’s 18 domestic violence organizations utilize a number of trauma-informed, evidence-based and resiliency-driven approaches to their work. They support the entire family – the child, the non-offending parent/survivor, and, in some cases, the offending parent. Some of these services include counseling, coordinating basic needs (e.g.: diapers, formula, school back packs and uniforms, social services, etc.), school or childcare enrollment, scheduling transportation, and advocating for the child and non-offending parent/survivor within various systems (e.g.: school, court, child welfare, etc.).

“Our child and family advocate is the backbone of critical support to children that need our help,” said Suzanne Adam, Executive Director, Domestic Violence Crisis Center. “Providing supportive evidence- and strengths-based resiliency services for children and the survivor/non-offending parent is paramount to the overall safety and stability of the family, but is not sustainable under the current funding structure. Two and half hours spent per child/family each year is not adequate to meet the complex needs they are facing.”

CCADV is requesting a total of $954,000 in state funding through the Department of Social Services (DSS) to support one full-time child & family advocate at each of Connecticut’s 18 domestic violence organizations (CCADV’s member organizations). It is rare that the needs of a family can be met within the time constraints of the existing funding structure. Currently CCADV’s member organizations utilize different funding sources to supplement the federal pass-through received from OPM, including fundraising or combining positions by hiring one, full-time staff person to function in multiple roles.

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