The Chattanooga Family Justice Center was one of four entities selected by the Office of Violence Against Women to receive a $376,950 federal grant under the Enhanced Training and Services to End Abuse in Later Life Program to fund efforts to address elder justice issues for the next three years. A total of $1,499,561 was awarded to four states under this grant.
The Enhanced Training and Services to End Abuse in Later Life Program addresses elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation, including domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, against victims who are 50 years of age or older through training and services. Eligible applicants include states and territories, Indian tribal governments and organizations, units of local government, and nonprofit, nongovernmental victim services organizations with demonstrated experience in assisting elderly women or demonstrated experience in addressing sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.
The grant is structured to provide extensive training to law enforcement, first responders, prosecutors, and advocates on best practices for working with the aging population during the first year; beginning in the second year 50 percent of the grant will be focused providing direct services to vulnerable older adults and implementing the elder abuse shelter network.
“Domestic violence is never acceptable, no matter what age, and we must do all we can to both prevent it in the first place, and to take care of those who are victimized by it," said Dr. Valerie Radu, executive director of the FJC. "This grant enhances the work we are already doing with community partners who are dedicated to providing outreach and counselling to victims and educating the public on how they can help stop elder abuse. Eliminating domestic violence and elder abuse starts with educating first responders, law enforcement, prosecutors and advocates and this grant provides the resources to provide high quality, evidence-based training in our community.”
Key community partners on the grant include the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults, the Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga, the Chattanooga Police Department, the District Attorney’s office, and Southern Adventist University School of Social Work. Additional community partners will be invited to participate after the formal grant kick-off event at the end of January.
The grant includes funding to support a paid internship for a graduate social work student; this supports the overall FJC mission of creating meaningful learning experiences in trauma-informed care for the social work interns who complete their internship at the FJC.
“Many of our students do not have extensive experience working with aging families but the majority of future social work jobs will be in the area of aging and healthcare due the fast growing aging population," said Kristie Wilder, dean of the School of Social Work at Southern Adventist University. “The extensive free training provided by the grant will be offered to social work students completing their field internships to increase their knowledge and understanding of best practices with the aging population; additionally the paid graduate internship will allow an exceptional graduate student the opportunity for hands-on learning with older adults at the FJC.”
The Family Justice Center encourages the community to use the 24-hour hotline 423-755-2700 at the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults to access safe shelter for victims of domestic violence. The statewide Child Abuse Hotline # 1-877-237-0004, the statewide Elder Abuse Hotline is 1-888-APS-TENN (1-888-277-8366) and the statewide Human Trafficking Hotline number is 1-855-55-TNHTH. The Family Justice Center is open from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday – Friday with extended evening hours until 7:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month.
The community is invited to reach out to the FJC to request presentations, trainings, or other types of participation. Inviting speakers with expertise to church, civic, and business functions is essential to increasing awareness and understanding.