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New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services
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For Immediate Release: 3/19/2018

Pair of Upstate Domestic Violence Prevention Service Providers Split $150,000 in State Funding to Enhance Services for Victims

New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence provides grants through its Ursula Forem Domestic Violence Program Employment Fellowship

Family of Woodstock, Inc. in Kingston and Unity House in Troy will each hire a young professional for two years to enhance services for victims and survivors

The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence today announced $150,000 in state funding for two domestic violence programs that will allow each to hire a graduate student or recent college graduate to help enhance the services they provide. The Family of Woodstock, Inc. in the Ulster County city of Kingston and Unity House in the Rensselaer County city of Troy each received an Ursula Forem Domestic Violence Program Employment Fellowship, which will fund the salary and benefits for their respective fellow for two years.

The Ursula Forem Domestic Violence Program Employment Fellowship is designed to develop professionals to work in the domestic violence prevention and services field. Additional goals of the program are to foster collaboration between domestic violence programs and other services; collect information to inform policy and funding; and enhance the capacity of local programs to better meet their community’s needs. Now in its fourth year, the fellowship is named in memory of an Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence employee killed in a vehicle crash on her way home from work in 2001.

“It is my sincere pleasure to announce the two newest recipients of the Ursula Forem Domestic Violence Program Employment Fellowship,” said Gwen Wright, executive director of OPDV.

These capacity-building grants help programs develop a well-trained workforce in her name, forwarding New York’s commitment to responding to and preventing domestic violence.”

Family of Woodstock, Inc. and Unity House in Troy were selected from a pool of eight applicants and will each receive up to $75,000 for two years to develop a work plan that will provide their respective fellows with a broad range of experience. Both fellows are expected to be hired in July and will attend an OPDV training before starting their jobs with the community-based organizations.

Family of Woodstock will use the grant to immerse its fellow into its family service programs, including the Washbourne House Domestic Violence Shelter, non-residential domestic violence services, and Evolve, the organization’s offender accountability program. This experience will provide the fellow with an opportunity to explore all facets of domestic violence services before choosing one that is best suited for them.

Michael Berg, Executive Director of Family of Woodstock, Inc., said, “Family of Woodstock is excited to host and train a domestic violence fellow. We feel that the broad scope of domestic violence services the agency offers, including comprehensive services for the survivor and groups for the perpetrators, will give the fellow a broad perspective on the work. Thank you for choosing Family of Woodstock.”

At Unity House, the selected fellow will help meet the needs of underserved victims and survivors of teen dating violence in Rensselaer County. The fellow will help outreach and prevention efforts and enhance Unity House’s capacity to deliver high-quality teen dating violence-related preventative education, as well as direct services and relevant referrals.

Christopher Burke, chief executive officer of Unity House of Troy said, “Unity House is deeply honored to receive the Ursula Forem Domestic Violence Program Employment Fellowship Grant. It will allow us to impact staff working in the domestic violence field, and by that, to have an impact in prevention and services. This innovative program will allow us to learn more and help more and develop future leaders —and we hope, deeply honor Ursula Forem.”

Previous recipients of the grant include the YWCA of Genesee County and North Brooklyn Coalition Against Family Violence in 2015; and Lifespan of Greater Rochester in Monroe County and the New York City-based Sanctuary for Families in 2016. Last year’s recipients were the Family Justice Center of Erie County and YWCA of the Niagara Frontier in Lockport.
The fellowship already has assisted community-based domestic violence programs in meeting their mission. The Family Justice Center of Erie County used its grant to help expand services into Grand Island, a traditionally underserved community. The YWCA of the Niagara Frontier, Inc integrated a survivor-centered approach in their victim services that effectively responds to the unique strengths and needs of the individual.

New York continues to expand its commitment to protecting victims and survivors of domestic violence. The state has also provided police and prosecutors with more effective tools to hold offenders accountable. Under Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s leadership, New York State has increased penalties for domestic violence offenders and now requires courts to consider certain risk factors when determining bail for an offender charged with an offense against a family or household members.

The Governor is also spearheading an effort to help prevent those who are accused of certain domestic violence offenses from having access to firearms. Legislation proposed as part of the state budget process also would mandate the surrender of all long guns and handguns, and suspension of pistol permits, any time an Order of Protection is entered.

The state also continues to address the non-criminal needs of domestic violence victims, among other measures. For instance, OPDV continues to administer a two-year $400,000 grant awarded to Unity House and Safe Homes of Orange County in 2016 to reduce intimate partner homicides in their communities. Those service providers have partnered with law enforcement to use an evidence-based assessment tool to identify intimate partner abuse cases deemed to be at high risk for lethal violence at the earliest point possible.

The Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (www.opdv.ny.gov) has three primary areas of focus: to advise the Governor and Legislature on policies and practices for the state; to train professionals from all disciplines across the state about the intersection of domestic violence in their daily practice; and to serve as a resource regarding the issue of domestic violence by disseminating regular public awareness campaigns, publishing materials for use by non-profits and victims and highlighting best practices. Find the agency on Facebook: www.facebook.com/nysdomesticviolence and Twitter and Instagram: @nysopdv.

The New York State Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline (1-800-942-6906) offers help and information 24 hours a day, in English, Spanish and other languages. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can call 711. The state also supports and funds community-based programs to assist victims of domestic and sexual violence and other crimes, including these Domestic Violence Resources, the Crime Victim Assistance Program and Sexual Assault and Violence Response Resources for SUNY Students.