The pandemic is leading to rise in demand for services at Greene County’s Family Justice Center.
County leaders moved the center from the second floor of the courthouse to the old Tefft School on East Pythian earlier this summer. They planned the move because they wanted a more comfortable atmosphere for victims and they needed more space. The center added 17,000 square feet. It allowed the county to expand services for crime victims. And it gives them more room to serve more victims at a time, especially with social distancing.
The center hosts nine different agencies under one roof, providing free services, including city and county law enforcement, counseling and legal help. Visitors at the center rose 150 a month in June to 250 a month now.
“I think that the isolation, which is already a tactic that abusers use, really makes it more difficult for people to get out on their own,” said Jamie Willis, Greene County Family Justice Center Project Coordinator. “There’s also the financial burden that everyone has faced during COVID-19.”
Domestic violence shelters such as Harmony House in Springfield also report an increased demand for help, but a decline in capacity because of COVID-19. The Family Justice Center is also partnering with them, using grant funding to find more space to shelter survivors.