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HAMILTON, OH (November 8, 2018) – LifeSpan is honored to announce they were recently awarded funding through the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) administered by the State Attorney General office. Of the total awards announced, $108.4 million is from VOCA grant funding awarded to Ohio from the U.S. Department of Justice. VOCA funding will allow LifeSpan to expand its services to include a full-time Victim Advocate Program Supervisor/Advocate and Volunteer Coordinator/Trainer as well as newly recruited volunteer advocates. Our advocates will serve as a link between the victim and the necessary supports they need in order to respond to special circumstances.
One of the largest barriers for older adult victims is under reporting of the abuse. One study estimates that only one in fourteen cases comes to the attention of authorities. Elder abuse is a crime in every state including Ohio. Comprehensive research estimates the prevalence of elder abuse to be approximately 10% of the population which could impact up to 55,000 people in Butler County. Yet older adults do not always define or recognize elder abuse behaviors as criminal. Older adults typically tend to avoid the criminal justice system including law enforcement, court, and attorneys in general and prosecution in particular. There are many theories as to why older adults don’t report including not knowing who to ask for help, fear of getting their abuser in trouble, fear of retaliation, of losing their independence or being forced into placement; or embarrassment and shame.
The Butler County Elder Safety Network interdisciplinary collaborative saw a need for a community based victim advocate and encouraged LifeSpan, who has been part of the network for years, to apply for the funding. “LifeSpan has continuously been recognized as a leader in the field of elder advocacy and is uniquely poised and excited to be expanding our senior service role and expertise in Butler County,” said Katie Furniss, LifeSpan’s Elderly Services Program Manager. ”Our advocates will help, support, defend and promote adult victims’ rights and wellbeing,” said Furniss. The community victim advocate will assist victims outside of the court including crisis intervention, collaboration with law enforcement, conducting home visits, and accompaniment to different appointments. The gaps made by the current systems in place will be filled to ensure that older adult victims of crime have the support they need.
“I am pleased to provide this grant to support LifeSpan’s efforts to help victims of elder abuse,” Ohio Attorney General and Governor-Elect Mike DeWine said. “Elder abuse is a serious problem, and having dedicated advocates to assist older victims will help ensure that victims receive the care and services they need.”
In order to further expand its capacity to reach as many victims as possible, LifeSpan will establish a volunteer program for additional Victim’s Advocates. This program will include volunteer training and continuous support by LifeSpan staff. If you would like to learn more about becoming a Volunteer Victims’ Advocate, contact Joyce Kachelries, COO for LifeSpan at (513) 868-3210 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LifeSpan, founded in 1945, serves clients of southwest Ohio by offering innovative, cost-effective programs for individuals, families, groups, and schools. LifeSpan’s programs include Elderly Services Program, Coaching and Financial Wellness, School Based Support Services, Guardianship, and Representative Payee. To learn more, visit www.lifespanohio.org.