Meet Kim Love, Director of Specialized Offender Services at VOADV. With 15 years of experience at the organization, Kim’s dedication and passion for her work are evident. She oversees two of VOADV’s most unique, but impactful programs that she describes as “small but mighty” – the Community Resource Center (CRC), the Family Violence Prevention Program (FVPP), as well as parole transient housing.
When an individual is released on parole, they can be going back to an entirely different world than the one they left – technology and transportation routes have changed, necessary employment skills have advanced, family may have relocated and so much more. The goal of the Community Resource Center is to help eliminate the barriers keeping these individuals from their second chance at life, and to address the factors that may have contributed to their criminal justice involvement in the first place.
“First and foremost, when a client walks through the door we’re getting them identification, helping them sign up for the Board of Social Services, Medicaid, whatever they need. We also assess any other needs they may have. If they don’t have a phone, we keep loaner phones here so they can borrow one until they get their own. We have a laundry facility on the premises. All these little barriers that you may not think of are the ones we’re trying to get rid of,” said Kim. “We also have mental health services, a social worker on staff who does counseling, we facilitate groups about different life skills – healthy relationships, healthy communication, financial literacy. It is really about helping them figure out why they are here so they can eliminate those barriers and work towards being successful and stable in their individual goals.”
Another crucial service provided by CRC is transient housing – through working with Kim and her team, clients are given access to a safe place to lay their head at night. It is impossible to work on finding employment or any next steps without an address, and the CRC helps to alleviate that stress and start their journey to reintegration.
The Family Violence Prevention Program (FVPP) focuses on intimate partner violence intervention. FVPP serves clients on an outpatient basis, conducting risk assessments and structured interviews to determine their attitudes and beliefs about healthy and unhealthy relationships. Clients receive treatment and counseling to address their behavior and learn accountability for the role they play in their partnerships.
One of the remarkable aspects of FVPP is the recent expansion of services to broader and more diverse demographics. FVPP has served Camden County for 20 years and Burlington County for about 6 – with the addition of recent funding, Kim and her team were able to open a new office in Mercer County and expand their client base.
“We can now provide these services to anyone, which was a big goal of mine. Women, LGBTQ+, it doesn’t matter,” Kim said. “We serve every demographic and walk of life. We could have a college professor sitting next to a police officer and a client from Hope Hall in the same group.
Their new funding also allowed FVPP to hire more clinical staff and expand the services they offer. They now have the ability to keep clients after the length of the program for additional treatment – an extremely important change, as prior to this funding clients were considered successful completions, despite whether staff thought they were ready or not. FVPP is also now able to offer individual interventions, not just group sessions. These changes will make a significant impact in successfully treating perpetrators of domestic violence.
Contrary to common perceptions, serving the perpetrators is equally essential as victim services in preventing the cycle of abuse. The goal of the program is to stop the pattern of abuse to prevent victimization of future partners.
“Life is long and we know that our clients are going to enter another relationship, or even remain in their current one,” said Kim. “Our goal is to have them look at their behavior, understand why they are engaging in it and give them skills and therapy so when they leave here, they have a relapse prevention plan for how they are going to handle different situations.”
The relationship between CRC and FVPP extends beyond shared premises in Camden. Clients can be referred from CRC to FVPP, and collaboration with other VOADV programs is common. If a client needs drug and alcohol treatment, the Addiction Treatment Program is available and FVPP serves clients from any of our RCRPs or shelters. This partnership demonstrates the VOADV commitment to serving diverse individuals who may require different levels of support.
Kim is clear that at CRC and FVPP, no two days are the same and there are always new challenges to address. However, as a natural problem solver, this is her favorite part of her work. From assisting clients to staff development, pursuing accreditation and developing new housing options for clients, Kim and her team are continuously moving forward.
“We were the first batterers intervention program in the state,” said Kim. “We have a framework for how to do this and we know it works. Now we get to expand it and find way to help even more people.”