The program is to get a plan together to prevent family violence in Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties.
By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
BOARDMAN -- The Tri-County Family Violence Prevention Program is a new initiative taking dead aim at prevention of domestic violence against children, partners and the elderly in Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties.
The program got under way Friday and is funded by a two-year $150,000 grant from Anthem Foundation of Ohio. The requirement of the foundation is that tri-county representatives from social service agencies, law enforcement, the courts and other areas within two years must form a coalition and implement a five-year plan aimed at preventing family violence.
There is a tremendous amount of unreported and undiagnosed domestic violence, especially among the elderly and disabled, said Judy Stansbury, Senior Protection Initiative coordinator with the Ohio Attorney General's office.
Training needed: Stansbury, keynote speaker at Friday's event at the Holiday Inn in Boardman, said there is a great need to train gatekeepers, such as mail carriers, Meals on Wheels volunteers and others who see the elderly on a regular basis, on how to recognize abuse and what to do about it.
Dorothy Miller, project coordinator, said work groups will be formed to gather data on the incidents of family violence; prevention resources in the three counties; and policies and systems of the resources, such as the legal system, social service agencies, schools and courts -- with a goal of making them more accessible.
Finally, Miller said, there will be a mini-summit meeting of the work groups within two years to develop a coalition and implement a collaborative plan to deliver services.
Miller, who previously was field coordinator for a national research project comparing children's behavior in Mahoning and Stark counties, is working under the auspices of Help Hotline Crisis Center, lead agency for the Anthem grant.
Trumbull County Probate Court Judge Thomas A. Swift said at Wednesday's kickoff that he likes the idea of a three-county approach to family violence, which he described as a "cancer in families."
Applauded emphasis: Judge Swift applauded the emphasis in the Anthem Foundation grant on violence against older adults. "It's amazing to me how few people know about problems experienced by older adults. They are key members of our families," he said.
"We can no longer be naive to the fact that family violence occurs. We need to work together to prevent family abuse," said Ginger Wilczak, intake supervisor for the Columbiana County Department of Job and Family Services.
Dianne Schwartz, founder and president of Educating Against Domestic Violence, said she went from being a victim to a survivor of domestic violence. But she said she grew tired of those tags. "I'm now a thriver," she said.
"It's important we work together on prevention instead of using a Band-Aid approach," she said.