A domestic violence program's expansion in Hamilton County is slowed by workforce challenges
A program that offers immediate support to domestic violence survivors is making slow progress toward expanding to all of Hamilton County.
The Domestic Violence Enhanced Response Team, or DVERT, is a program from the nonprofit Women Helping Women.
President Kristin Shrimplin announced last August a plan to partner with all 49 jurisdictions in the county by the end of last year. But with only two jurisdictions added since then, Shrimplin says the new goal is to reach 30 within the next few months.
"The issue is not the partnerships; all of the law enforcement [agencies] are like 'Yes, let's do this.' We have financial support. What is a current difficulty — which the entire nation is experiencing, and this region — is being able to secure workforce."
DVERT works by sending a crisis team with law enforcement to respond to 911. Survivors are connected to safety planning and more than a dozen other services.
"We are asking folks to come work for us in the gender-based violence field, going into a space that you're showing up for a lot of trauma," Shrimplin said. "We've got to hire about 12 to 15 new advocates so that we can literally cover five zones 24/7."
DVERT is active in 22 jurisdictions so far:
- Blue Ash
- Forest Park
- Green Hills
- Green Township
- Golf Manor
- Lincoln Heights
- Mt. Healthy
- North College Hill
- Springfield Township
- St. Bernard
Shrimplin says she's confident they can reach 30 within the next few months, with a goal of reaching all 49 by the end of 2023.
Cincinnati officials changed the process for funding nonprofit organizations this year, but DVERT is exempt from applying — that all but guarantees they’ll get funding in the next city budget.
Shrimplin says support for the program has grown considerably over the last few years.
"Anytime you take a survivor who is marginalized by violence and you say, we are going to place you in the center with policy and budgets — and your values are in your budget line items — that shows what we're really trying to do in this region around equity, inclusion and collaboration."
Twenty people in Cincinnati were murdered in incidents of domestic violence last year, according to CPD Chief Teresa Theetge.