NAMPA, Idaho — During an average year, 500 adults and 90 children across the Treasure Valley seek help in the form of counseling, legal aid, support groups, and case management from the Nampa Family Justice Center (NFJC). This year, that number is rising.
The Justice Center reports that in April, just after the local outbreak of the coronavirus, the Governor's stay-at-home orders led to a drop in services. The NFJC says the restrictions were a major concern as many families living with abusers were put in much greater danger by being restricted to their homes.
The following month saw an increase in abuse cases as well as an increase in severity. An NFJC partner tells Idaho News 6 that since then, cases are still rising dramatically, as they opened 16 cases in three weeks. The cases are also becoming more violent with more physical torture and abuse of children, including infants.
"It is not a small problem, and it is not a few people. We are talking about a significant number of people," says Jeannie Strohmeyer, the NFJC's interim Director.
The NFJC believes this disturbing increase may be attributed to many parents having no support systems, increased responsibilities and stress, balancing working from home while managing online school for children, or loss of income and essential items due to caring for children.
The NFJC says November and December are historically "quieter" months, giving them time to prepare, plan, and stock up on items they may need to sustain them when activity picks up again in January.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still in full swing ahead of the holidays, the NFJC says they're in need of food gift cards, gas cards, money to help victims pay rent, Christmas toys for children of all ages, and a television for children to watch in the Justice Center playroom as their parent or guardian seeks assistance.
The Justice Center cannot accept donations of canned, boxed, or frozen foods because of a lack of storage space. To learn more about how you can help their cause or seek help for you or someone you know, click here.