Length of Stay at Connecticut Domestic Violence Shelters Has Increased | Connecticut Public Radio
WNPR

Length of Stay at Connecticut Domestic Violence Shelters Has Increased

Feb 10, 2016

The situation is creating a challenge for shelters, which have a policy of never turning people away.

A report by the Connecticut Women's Education and Legal Fund shows victims are staying longer at the state's domestic violence shelters, creating a strain on shelters' resources and available space.

The study released Tuesday determined the average length of stay in a shelter in 2013 was 37 days, a 42 percent increase from the average length of stay of 26 days in 2007.

Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence CEO Karen Jarmoc attributes the longer stays to limited options for permanent housing. She said the situation is creating a challenge for shelters, which have a policy of never turning people away.

Jarmoc said, for example, there were 312 shelter and transitional beds available when 332 domestic violence victims sought refuge one day last September. She said people slept on sofas and rollaway beds.

The report cited a lack of long-term housing and resources for women with complex backgrounds, such as mothers or young women who have outgrown state Department of Children and Families care, as one of the largest problems facing the state's shelters. 

The increase in the number of victims staying at shelters -- as well as the increase in their length of stay -- has stretched some resources thin, namely mental health and child care services, according to the report. 

There is also a cultural barrier that shelters still struggle to overcome. The report cited a shortage in bilingual staff, which can lead to shelters' few Spanish-speaking staff members being overworked.

It has been six years since the state legislature passed laws that funded 24-hour staffing at domestic violence shelters.

Jackson Mitchell is an intern at WNPR. This report includes information from the Associated Press.