FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 5th
Media Contact: Carrie Hoeppner (407)264-1379
Nine Orange County Children Lose Parents to Domestic Violence in Recent Weeks
Child Protection Officials Respond to Tragic Trend by Helping Child Survivors
Orlando, Florida – A recent trend of domestic-violence related homicides in Central Florida has left nine children in Orange County without a parent or parents in recent weeks. This number includes three siblings who lost both parents in a murder/suicide incident in Orange County as well as a group of five siblings whose mother’s life was taken in the same incident. In addition, an 8-year-old Orlando girl lost both parents in another murder/suicide on Sept. 30, the eve of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
This disturbing trend has caught the attention of child protection officials, partner agencies and the entire Central Florida community.
Last year, the Florida Department of Children and Families investigated more than 87,000 allegations of family violence across the state, with Orange County receiving the second-highest number of any county at 6,289. The allegation of family violence remains among the top allegations of child abuse in many Central Florida counties.
"As part of the child protection transformation project, we have strengthened existing relationships with our domestic violence partners, consulting with these experts on sensitive cases, bringing them in before things escalate further," explains Bill D'Aiuto, Central Region Managing Director for DCF. Here in Orange County, representatives from Harbor House of Central Florida, the community's leading domestic violence provider, are available to respond and provide guidance on cases related to family violence. In addition, Harbor House co-locates representatives with family services case managers to provide guidance on cases considered highly dangerous. These positions are funded through Community Based Care of Central Florida, the lead agency for foster and adoptive services in Orange and Osceola counties.
The Department’s Office of Domestic Violence reports that the state’s 42 certified domestic violence shelters answered more than 98,000 crisis calls last year and provided a safe haven for nearly 16,000 victims and their children –- a 9 percent increase over the past four years.
In lethal domestic violence situations where a child has been left orphaned by family violence, DCF and its partners step in to provide crisis support and an emergency safe haven until the agency is able to initiate contact with loved ones for the child. All nine children in the above cases have been reunited with family members.
For more information about domestic violence programs, please visit www.fcadv.org or www.myflfamilies.com/service-programs/domestic-violence. If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, call the Florida Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-500-1119 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.