Safe + Sound Blog

S+SS Reset Benefits Survivors

Since early March, Safe+Sound Somerset has been working passionately in response to the coronavirus pandemic to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff, survivors and communities. As the lead organization in Somerset County providing essential services to survivors of domestic abuse, we continually adapted our programs and services to ensure all were kept as safe as possible from the virus. All the while ensuring our client-centered, evidence-based services providing safety, hope and healing remained accessible to survivors of domestic abuse.

As a trauma-informed organization, we utilized many of the same skills and tools that we teach our clients to tap into our OWN creativity and resilience. We quickly reset how we functioned to meet the new demands and realities of COVID-19. While maintaining our in-person Safe House and Transitional Housing, the remainder of program staff transitioned to remote work and providing virtual services with great results.

The Positives

In reviewing the three months of services during the onset of the pandemic, we are beyond encouraged by the unanticipated program impact our “COVID-19 Reset” has had on survivors and their children.

The outcomes of our COVID-19 Reset include:

  1. Increased Client Engagement – Resulting from the ease of accessing virtual services, as well as clinical benefits of virtual services
  2. Reduction of Barriers to Access Services –Eliminated the need and cost of transportation, reduced childcare needs, and flexibility of appointment scheduling for nights and weekends
  3. Increased Employee Satisfaction – Achieved through the flexibility to balance work and personal needs, meet performance expectations, maintaining productivity in a remote setting

By comparison, (March – June 2020 compared to March – June 2019), Safe+Sound Somerset’s programs experienced:

  • 35% increase in calls and texts to our Crisis Hotline
  • 50% increase in referrals to the Domestic Violence Crisis Response Team (DVRT)
  • 25% increase in referrals for Counseling
  • Counseling Appointment No Show Rate of less than 10% (35% in 2019)
  • Counseling Compliance of 90% (65% in 2019)

See Also: Legal Advocacy


 

The Challenges

Unfortunately, there are also alarming trends and challenges facing our clients and the organization. The clients we serve are presenting with more complex situations and support needs. Approximately 90% of survivors who become clients enroll in at least two S+SS services to start, with 95% engaging in other programs to continue their recovery as clients of S+SS.

Clients convey experiences of more frequent incidents of domestic abuse and increased intensity of violence. In addition, these dynamics are occurring at younger ages as incidents of dating violence rise as well. In response to the growing needs for education and information about the dynamics of domestic abuse, trends that we are seeing, and resources available to survivors, we initiated a series of monthly webinars in March. These have been well attended by professionals from community partners; school administrators, counselors and teachers; community members; and more.

Unfortunately, there exists a small number of clients who we have been unable to serve comprehensively during this time due safety concerns related to not having a safe space for virtual appointments or a preference for in-person services. These clients are still supported with safety planning, connection to community resources and “check-in” chats until it is safe to being seeing clients face to face in a limited capacity.

 


See Also: Safety Planning During COVID-19


 

Finally, although our services will remain intact through 2020, this is not a given reality for 2021.  We have been notified that due to the current budget crisis, our state funding is in jeopardy which would greatly impact our Crisis Services (Hotline and Safe House), Individual and Group Counseling for adults, our Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) for children, and Domestic Liaison services at the Somerset and Hunterdon Departments of Child Protection & Permanency.

The Future

Be assured that our commitment to all survivors and their children remains steadfast. We know that during times of crisis, and especially with forced isolation and increased income insecurity, incidents of domestic abuse often rise, and violence escalates. We also know that the trauma of the pandemic is likely to sustain this rise in domestic abuse and escalation of violence for years after the initial crisis passes. Safe+Sound Somerset will be there for survivors through it all – today, tomorrow and long into the future if needed – just maybe looking a little different.

If you need help or would like information, contact Safe+Sound Somerset’s 24/7 call and text hotline at 866-685-1122. Additional information about our services, domestic abuse, and other resources is available at www.safe-sound.org.