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Frequently Asked Questions


Q:  Is the shelter house a big room full of cots?
A:  No! Our shelter is a large older home, and we strive to make it feel as homey and comfortable as possible. There are several bedrooms, bathrooms, a communal kitchen, living room, and a quiet room available for residents in the program. Our shelter will house approximately 40 survivors and children at maximum capacity. We have the availability to provide emergency shelter off site  when appropriate for the survivor’s individual needs.


Q:  Am I allowed to go to work and / or appointments?
A:  Yes. The purpose of the emergency shelter program is  to provide a safe place to stay and give the survivor the opportunity to achieve their goals. There is no limitations or curfew and shelter residents may come and go as they feel necessary during their stay. Additionally, transportation to goal-related appointments may be available from the staff and volunteers. The shelter is located near retail locations and local bus routes for convenience. 


Q:  Are there specific meal times? Am I allowed to cook?
A:  There are no required meal times and the staff does not prepare meals with the exception of special occasion meals for the residents. Residents in the shelter are not required to prepare meals for other residents. They may cook whatever they would like for themselves or their family at any time they wish. There is a stocked pantry and fridge/ freezers available 24 hours a day.  Donated and the program funded food is provided at no charge to residents. They can also provide their own food and we have secure locked places for the residents to keep personal food items.


Q:  Am I allowed to use my cell phone in the shelter?
A:  Yes. Residents who have cell phones may keep them and use them when they wish. If the resident does not have access to a safe cell phone then the shelter phone can be used to make and receive calls.  Advocates understand the importance of safety planning around technology and inform residents of the risks associated with technology uses and the need for cyber-security.


Q:  Will I sleep in a different room than my children?
A:  Families are always kept together in the same bedroom.


Q:  I share custody of my children. Are they able to come to the shelter during the times I have them?
A:  Yes. Additionally, the staff will make necessary accommodations when children stay for visitation so that children are in the same bedroom as their mother. It is important to understand that we are not licensed daycare professionals and cannot offer childcare services.  It is the resident's responsibility to take care of their own children while in our shelter program. The case manager can help connect the resident to the Early Learning Coalition for daycare assistance if services are available.  


Q:  How many people are staying in the shelter?
A:  The number of people staying in the shelter at any given time changes frequently. We can house up to 40 people in our facility. Throughout the year we are at capacity 75% of the time. When we can not accommodate a survivor for any reason we make every effort to assist them with other resources.


Q: Can I bring my pet with me to shelter?

A: Thanks to the Brooksville Rotary our shelter can now accommodate dogs and cats with covered shelter areas. We have a few limitations based on insurance regulations and can discuss them in more detail with a survivor via our hotline.


Q:  Are there rules in the shelter? How do I protect my valuables in the communal living shelter?
A:  We have guidelines in place to promote safety and confidentiality for all those in the shelter. We strive to empower the residents in the shelter to make their own decisions. We do not allow drugs or alcohol on premises, any type of physical or verbal violence, or other illegal activities that could be harmful to other shelter residents. Due to the nature of communal living, we have available large lockers with personalized access codes available for valuables such as purses, wallets, medications, money, laptops, phones, important documents, and jewelry.  The lockers are provided to residents upon entry and we empower the survivors to use them to keep their valuables safe. 


Q: Does the agency provide support for men, children, LGBTQ populations, and other under-served populations?

A: Dawn Center has been an equal opportunity services provider since 1986. In accordance with federal law, this agency is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, gender, color, age, sex, gender identity, national origin, religion, political beliefs, disability, veteran’s or marital status or any other category protected by law. Interpreter services will be provided for the deaf or hard of hearing and persons with limited English proficiency free of cost. All Dawn Center facilities meet ADA standards.


Q: Do residents have to attend group or case management while staying in shelter?

A: We are here to serve survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.   Each survivor has individual circumstances and needs.   We tailor our program to their goals, objectives, and around their individual concerns and situations.   We offer various groups and weekly case management to support our guests.    Groups and case management can be very supportive and assist in the healing however, each situation is unique to the individual and their attendance is always their choice. 


Q: Is my stay in shelter or usage of other services confidential?

A: Yes, unless given written consent by the survivor to disclose information. Under Florida State Statute 39.908, information about domestic violence center clients may not be disclosed without the written consent of the client to whom the information or records pertain. It is due to this Florida State Statute that we do not confirm or deny that a particular survivor is utilizing our services without their written permission. 


Q: Does the shelter location get health and safety inspections from state or local agencies?

A: The shelter receives annual monitoring where annual health, safety, and sanitation inspections are reviewed. Along with all certified domestic and sexual violence centers in the state of Florida, Dawn Center meets or exceeds the state guidelines and monitoring standards from the certifying agencies.  


Q: Do I have to pay for anything while I am in shelter or utilizing outreach services?

A: All services are offered at no cost including basic needs items while in the shelter program. 


Q: What does the center do with all of the donations they get from the community?

A: Many of the clothing, food, and personal hygiene items are available from our clothing and food pantries located inside the shelter and outreach locations for survivors in our programs. We do not have a thrift store and when there are an abundance of items that are not used by our program participants, we pay them forward to other local agencies or social service providers.  Demonstrating to state and federal grantors that our program has local community support is essential to leverage those dollars used to provide direct services to our program participants. 

Our volunteers and staff count and inventory every item that is donated to the center and report those numbers to the funding agencies as needed. If you are interested in more information regarding donating to the center, click here for more information on how to make a donation.


Q: Are there volunteer opportunities for myself and my family?

A: We welcome all types of volunteers. Being that we serve approximately 1,800 people per year, we have many uses for volunteers in a direct and non-direct service capacity. Contact our volunteer coordinator at the administration office at 352-684-7191 or click here for more information on how to become a volunteer.


Q: What is the administration percentage rate for the agency? Are the staff paid according to industry guidelines?

A: Our administration rate is less than 6% of the operating budget, meaning the vast majority of staff time and expenses are allocated to direct core services for survivors/ families and community awareness/ prevention. Dawn Center provides 24/7 support services in the Sexual Violence Program, Hotline and Shelter Program. We also provide direct service through our Outreach, Legal Advocacy, CPI Project, and Sexual Violence Program available to survivors. Being a direct service agency we have a large percentage of our budget dedicated to staff time. Our staff is made up of dedicated advocates who focus on providing the best possible support services to survivors. They attend over 20 hours per year of continuing education to meet the needs of survivors. Dawn Center is proud to offer competitive salaries and benefits to staff based on industry standards.


Q: What is the role of the Board of Directors? How do I become a board member?

A: Dawn Center has a very dedicated group of board members who volunteer their time to provide oversight and guidance to the agency.  The board focuses on policies and procedure structures, special events and funding opportunities, and strategic planning for future growth. The board of directors is made up of a diverse group of community leaders and partners to provide insight from an array of community subgroups. Contact our administration office to learn if there are any opportunities available.

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