CASA and the Juvenile Welfare Board are taking pre-emptive measures to ensure the safety of those who may be facing domestic violence in Pinellas County
With the unprecedented emotional and financial stressors of the recent pandemic only expected to worsen, JWB joined CASA in rehabbing a property in Pinellas County to build capacity. CASA Pinellas County’s certified domestic violence center is seeing a 40 percent increase in hotline calls since social distancing guidelines of the COVID-19 pandemic went into effect. Countries around the world are also seeing an uptick in domestic violence incidents, according to a United Nations report:
Domestic violence in France increased 30 percent following the country’s lockdown on March 17
Spain saw an 18 percent increase in domestic violence calls in the first two weeks of lockdowns;
Helplines in Singapore have received 30 percent more calls
Close quarters, financial stressors, and increased alcohol/substance use are just a few of the many factors in the COVID-19 pandemic that are increasing the risk of explosive events of domestic violence.
“The opportunity to work with JWB to rehab this property allows us to get ahead of the problem,” stated Lariana Forsythe, CASA CEO. “We are paying close attention to national and international domestic violence trends, and unfortunately we need to be prepared for the worst.”
When the project is complete, this site will be able to serve a variety of needs:
• Potential shelter for residents who may test positive for COVID-19 and be in need of isolation from the general population
• Overflow or to relieve shelter capacity, as we continue to follow social distancing guidelines
• Childcare site for essential CASA shelter employees with children
The property has the potential to serve a minimum of eight large families while adhering to the CDC’s social distancing guidelines and can be used for existing domestic violence programs after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The decision to make this investment was an easy one, because it has to do with the safety and well-being of children and their parents. I made a few calls, and we were able to get the property ready for occupancy rather quickly thanks to the support of our Board,” added Beth Houghton, JWB CEO.
Call to Action:
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call CASA’s 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline (727) 895-4912 | TTY (727) 828-1269. Outside of Pinellas County call (800) 500-1119 | TTY (800) 621-4202
Looking for ways to support CASA through the COVID-19 pandemic? By purchasing a “Home Should Be A Safe Place” yard sign, you can support CASA services while sharing critical resources to neighbors in need across Pinellas County: www.casa-stpete.org/donate
Founded in 1977, CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse) is the official 501c3 domestic violence center based in southern Pinellas County, FL. CASA operates safety, empowerment, and prevention programs aimed at ending domestic violence. These include the area’s 24-hour hotline and emergency shelter; non-residential programs, such as support groups, economic empowerment and legal advocacy; Child Protective Investigative Team support; community and corporate training; and the CASA Peacemakers anti-bullying and healthy relationship school curriculum. To learn more visit www.casa-stpete.org.
The Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County (JWB) has been committed to making children a priority for nearly 75 years. As a countywide special taxing district, JWB invests in 53 nonprofit agencies that deliver 82 quality programs, and served 70,000 Pinellas County children and families last year. JWB’s investments are focused in four strategic areas: school readiness, school success, prevention of child abuse and neglect, and strengthening community. In addition, JWB leads collective initiatives to address childhood hunger, grade-level reading, and preventable child deaths. To learn more visit www.jwbpinellas.org.