The city of Philadelphia has created a new position to coordinate efforts against domestic violence.
Azucena Ugarte, who was at the group Women Against Abuse, will be the city’s director of domestic abuse strategies. The goal, she said Tuesday, is to make the city’s health and human services agencies better able to address domestic violence.
“What we want is to get the city to a point at which if somebody receives any services from a city agency, the city agency is ready to screen for intimate partner violence or domestic violence to intervene appropriately — and to be able to refer the person to agencies that can provide that service if that city agency cannot provide it,” she said.
Mayor Jim Kenney said he wants Philadelphia to become a national model when it comes to responding to and preventing domestic violence.
“We have a responsibility to not look the other way and to do something about it,” he said. “And if it’s ‘buttinsky,’ then good because it’s going to save a lot of pain and a lot of suffering.”
The city had a lot of work to do, Ugarte said.
“I think the first thing is to map out what the agencies are already doing, what efforts are already in the making,” she said. “Then try to identify the gaps and identify best practices that can be sustainable.”
The city had to turn away 14,000 requests for shelter last year because it lacked capacity in safe havens for victims of domestic violence.