Crisis Line is a toll-free, 24 hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week, statewide telephone line answered by trained professionals/and/or trained volunteers. This service allows victims to call directly for housing assistance, non-residential counseling, victim advocacy, or other community referrals and assistance.
Temporary Emergency Shelter
Temporary Emergency Shelters include the provision of temporary housing, food, transportation, case management, individual and group counseling, referrals, personal hygiene articles, assistance with special needs, etc. for up to 90 days in Laurel and Hattiesburg. Both shelters are open 24 –hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, and are staffed with a full-time Shelter Services Director and Residential Workers, as well as volunteers. This service allows victims and their children to have a safe space in a supportive environment to help rebuild their lives. This would prevent clients from being homeless or prevent death due to staying in their current situation.
Residential and Non-Residential Counseling
Counseling through DAFS includes individual and group counseling to victims and survivors who are residing in shelters in Laurel and Hattiesburg. If the client is not residing in a shelter, clients may come to our Laurel or Hattiesburg offices for counseling sessions from any county in the eleven-county service area. This service allows victims and survivors to work on domestic violence issues to become more emotionally and mentally healthy in a location away from the shelters, for those victims and survivors not needing shelter, but needing counseling and support.
Public Education and Training
DAFS Public Education and Training program includes speaking to civic, business, school, and church groups about domestic violence, teaching classes at local colleges and universities, providing in-services for professionals, and providing specialized training for law enforcement, judges, social workers, medical personnel, etc. This service is provided by several staff members and volunteers. This service furthers awareness of domestic violence, as well as awareness of services throughout the eleven-county service area, thereby assisting others in assisting victims/survivors.
Childcare and Children’s Program
Child care is offered to residential children in Laurel and Hattiesburg by experienced Child Care Workers, as well as volunteers. This service is provided to all children in the shelter. Preschool is available for children aged six and under to prepare them for the regular classroom setting. Classes are taught by a Master level certified teacher. Children aged six and older can attend a domestic violence educational group upon the parent’s approval. These services help to break the cycle of violence by reaching out to the children exposed to violence with education and training for the child and the parent.
Case Management is offered to women and their children for up to 90 days while in the shelter, this service will help in the transition to independent living. Services that are provided to assist clients are transportation, advocacy, court support, assistance in practical living, and referrals. This service is performed by the Case Manager daily. This service gives victims much-needed support to deal with the stress associated with moving into dependent living and aid them in not returning to the abusive situation. Case management can be provided to shelter clients after departure from the shelter if needed.
Victim Advocacy is provided in municipal and justice courts in Jones, Jasper, Smith, Wayne, Covington, Jefferson Davis, Forrest, Lamar, and Marion Counties. The Victim Advocate provides service five days a week. In addition, the Victim Advocate assists with law enforcement and judicial training, makes recommendations to the court for offender rehabilitation, and accompanies shelter clients to court. This service gives victims additional support during the somewhat confusing court process, as well as provides an increased awareness of new and existing laws and the services of this agency to law enforcement and judges.
Batterer’s Educational Groups
Batterer’s Educational Group – also called the Domestic Violence Intervention Program – is alternative sentencing for judges utilizing the Duluth model curriculum and modifications in the 11-country service area to male batterers. Also offered on a voluntary basis from referrals. Groups are weekly. The men’s groups are facilitated by a certified male facilitator. This service helps to break the cycle of violence by addressing the problems of the batterer, and hopefully, to reunite the family in a peaceful environment.
The volunteer program allows members of the surrounding communities to give their time and service, and to learn more about DAFS. This program provides opportunities for volunteers to answer the crisis line, help with direct services at the shelters, and help with grocery shopping, maintenance, office work, and other areas. Students at local colleges and universities can volunteer their time for community service, and Field Placements are available for Bachelor’s and Master’s level Social Work and Family and Consumer Sciences students at the University of Southern Mississippi, among others. Students can gain valuable experience by assisting victims and survivors, and some go on to work for the agency. In addition, Foster Grandparents and personnel from the Retired Senior Volunteer Program can volunteer at DAFS. All of these volunteer experiences provide increased awareness of DAFS’ services, generating an increased awareness to victims and survivors as well.