Nationally, the month of October is recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness month and serves to increase support, remind the public of this vicious epidemic, and publicly address the needs of domestic violence victims. Although there are public and private entities in society which exist to help such victims, a Tampa, Fla., organization designed to facilitate the needs of domestic violence victims closed its doors, for good!
The Family Justice Center of Hillsborough County is no longer in operation and stands an empty shell of a building next to the former north county courthouse, also obsoleted recently.
The cause and effect? Lack of funding resulted in a defunct public assistance organization.
Not much different than the current state of our union with regard to the federal government shutdown, so too have local subsidies waned. The Family Justice Center of Hillsborough County (FJCHC) in Tampa, Fla., the sole purpose of which was to cater the needs of those affected by domestic violence, had been tapering down to the final act: Placing a lock on the door one last time.
As the proliferation of domestic violence continues, victims in Tampa Bay will have one less resource with which to turn. Tantamount to a domestic violence victim being literally locked into an abode and confronted with a controlling relationship partner, the closing of help organizations' doors have similar effect. The message is that there is one less place to seek refuge when in dire need.
The lack of funding for such community resources hits hard, especially at a time of the year during which we nationally observe Domestic Violence Awareness month: October.
Opened in 2006 at 9309 North Florida Avenue in Tampa, the Family Justice Center ordinarily received its funding thrust from the Children's Board of Hillsborough County. Due to budget cuts, the Children's Board cut its regular allocation of funds for the Family Justice Center in half, from $300,000 to $150,000. With such a drastic shortfall, the FJCHC had to scurry for approximately $170,000. to meet its budget allocations by July 31, 2013, or be compelled to close its doors permanently.
That financial goal went unmet. The door locks were secured and remain that way.
With 20,000 square feet of space the FJCHC housed close to 25 specialized agencies and respective programs, all geared toward domestic violence victims. In its entirety, the FJCHC concept served as only one of 15 across the nation, and it was deemed as a one-stop-shopping depot as it relates to the many factors of rebuilding lives, post-domestic violence events.
A triad source of funding contributions --private, public and government-- dried up. Nikki Daniels, the FJCHC's executive director at the time of the closure, waged an all-out plea for funding sources to aid against closing the facility, vital to domestic violence victims.
To no avail, Daniels placed the key in the front door locks and secured the edifice for the last time.
The remaining stalwart agency still in effect as it pertains to domestic violence-related help is The Spring of Tampa Bay. A largely clandestinely-based entity, The Spring shelters and provides resources to domestic violence victims and their children. Typically, the Courts and/or law enforcement officers facilitate the admissions process for victims. Absolute discretion is assured as one of its core objectives.
The Spring had been one of the affiliate agencies correlated with the Family Justice Center of Hillsborough County...until FJCHC closed its doors. Nevertheless, The Spring remains open for those in-need domestic violence-affected victims.
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