For the first time ever, The Salvation Army Social Service Center, an emergency shelter for women and children escaping domestic violence and homelessness, was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). The Social Service Center was chosen as one of only 50 grant recipients from among a total of 215 applicants across the nation requesting $70,295,000 in funding.

The $255,000 three year grant was awarded from the OVW’s Transitional Housing Assistance Program and will enable the Social Service Center, located at 540 North Alabama Street in downtown Indianapolis, to drastically expand its Continuing Support Program.

The Continuing Support Program is offered to women and children who are leaving domestic violence situations and are seeking stable, transitional or permanent housing and continue to need additional support to ease their transition into permanent self-sufficiency. The Continuing Support Program is also funded through a grant from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute’s STOP Violence Against Women program and two internal funding sources through The Salvation Army.

Through the Continuing Support Program, the Social Service Center provides ongoing case management, financial assistance, educational classes, support groups, child care, and advocacy to ensure that program participants receive the support they need to achieve continue meeting their goals after they leave the shelter. The ultimate goal of the Continuing Support Program is to help program participants achieve long term self-sufficiency and end familial cycles of domestic violence.

“The Transitional Housing Assistance grant will allow us to provide the kind of help women need to make a lasting change in their lives. Too many times I see women who have overcome remarkable obstacles during their short stay at the shelter leave our facility and then return to situations that once again place them and their families at great risk,” said Nancy Russell, Salvation Army city social services director.

In December of 2007, the expanded Continued Support Program helped 10 women and 19 children transition out of the shelter and into independent living. The Social Service Center partnered with My Sister, My Friend, which provided furniture and household items to ease the transition for the exiting shelter residents. The Social Service Center has established ten key collaborations with other area social service providers and will work to build five additional partnerships each year.

According to Russell, “These collaborations will be essential to our program’s success. We can’t tackle alleviating domestic violence in these women’s lives alone. It really takes a community effort.”

Domestic violence continues to be a major social problem throughout the United States and in the Marion County community. The Center for Disease Control reports that 5.4 million incidents of intimate partner violence occur each year in the United States among women 18 and older, which leads to 1,300 deaths annually – more than 3 deaths every day. And according to the Domestic Violence Network of Greater Indianapolis, more than 100,000 Marion County women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime.

The Social Service Center’s transitional housing assistance program is unique within the Central Indiana community. Many other programs specifically target single women or have upper age limits for the male children of the women they serve. The expanded Continuing Support Program is designed to fill the gap in services that exist for women with children of all ages and genders. The Social Service Center will now be one of very few shelters in the Central Indiana area that provide housing and additional financial assistance to exiting shelter residents.

Participation in the program is contingent upon each participant’s willingness to continue to maintain contact with her case manager at least once a week for guidance and critical needs assessment.

According to Dena Simpson, client services coordinator, this will be a crucial part of the program’s success. “I really have to commend the case managers involved in this program because they are the ones on the ‘front lines’ who make sure the clients get the support they need and understand what kind of obstacles they might be facing,” said Simpson.

To learn more about the Social Service Center and the Continuing Support Program you can contact Nancy Russell by phone at (317) 937-7000, ext. 1039.