More than $1.5 million of federal stimulus funding is going toward fighting domestic violence in Connecticut — but probably not in New Haven.
The Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, a statewide public advocacy group, has selected the five shelters whose hours will be expanded for two years with $1 million of the funding, Erika Tindill, the group’s director, said. But none of that $1 million is going to the Domestic Violence Services of Greater New Haven, a domestic shelter that already receives federal funding. Tindill said the coalition considered several factors when it selected the five shelters receiving stimulus funds, such as the shelters’ job retention and creation. The organization has not yet released the names of the shelters selected, and Tindill said she doesn’t know when or whether the names will be announced.
The state selected the coalition to distribute the stimulus funds because it runs all 16 of Connecticut’s domestic violence shelters. Tindill declined to comment on why New Haven’s domestic violence shelter is not receiving stimulus funding.
The majority of the stimulus funds will allow the five Connecticut domestic violence shelters selected to stay open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and preserve the positions of five Connecticut domestic violence prosecutors, Governor M. Jodi Rell announced last week.
The preserved positions are in the Hartford, Ansonia/Milford, Stamford and Windham judicial districts, thanks to the remaining $545,000 of the stimulus grant.
“This funding will enable Connecticut to make great strides on both sides of the domestic violence equation – prevention and prosecution,” Governor Rell said in a statement.
Tindill said the stimulus money is “helpful,” but added that it “does not fill the gap of comprehensive services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
“Only five out of 14 shelters [statewide] are able to use this money to achieve 24/7 staffing,” Tindill said.
The recession has increased the demand for domestic violence services at the same time as it has stressed domestic violence shelters’ balance sheets, Tindill said. During the last 18 months the coalition has seen an increase of demand for domestic violence services of up to 24 percent in some Connecticut communities, she said.
Sandra Koorejian, the director of the Domestic Violence Services of Greater New Haven, did not return multiple requests for comment over the past week on how the recession has impacted the organization’s financial situation or the demand for their services.
The Governor’s office plans to use additional stimulus funding to create programs to fight domestic violence, said Matthew Fritz, the governor’s assistant secretary.
Among other things, the state will use the funds to inform parents and teens about the risks of teen dating violence through media campaigns and develop a classroom curriculum to educate students about their rights and dating violence resources.
The stimulus funds will also be used to reach out to minority and underserved populations and to combat technology-facilitated sexual harassment and abuse, Fritz said.
The Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence has been asking the state to fund around-the-clock staffing of domestic violence shelters for over seven years. Connecticut is one of only five states whose domestic violence shelters are not all staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Tindill said in a statement released in March.