New study says fewer funds may available for domestic violence servicesA new survey conducted by the National Network to End Domestic Violence shows an increase for those seeking help from domestic violence services and a decrease in funding for those providing the services. This could create tight spots for area service providers in the near future, area officials said.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
A new survey conducted by the National Network to End Domestic Violence shows an increase for those seeking help from domestic violence services and a decrease in funding for those providing the services. This could create tight spots for area service providers in the near future, area officials said.
The survey shows that in North Dakota 86 percent of domestic violence service providers reported a higher demand for services while 77 percent of service providers reported a decrease in funding.
The NNEDV is a social change organization dedicated to creating a social, political and economic environment in which violence against women no longer exists.
“With all the problems they’re having in Washington right now we’re really afraid that some of the programs we offer are going to get cut,” said Virginia Svenningsen, director of the Abused Persons Outreach Center in Valley City.
Service providers in Jamestown and Valley City offer similar services including: help obtaining protection orders, counselors, support groups, help finding jobs, housing and furnishings, help with social services paperwork, advocacy services, crisis hotlines and more.
“Just about what they think is a need they need to be free, we try to find a service to help them,” Svenningsen said.
In Valley City, about 80 percent of The Abused Persons Outreach Center’s roughly $250,000 budget comes from federal funds.
“I already know ahead of time when I’m writing my grants this year that I’m not going to get as much as last year because they cut some of it,” she said.
In one year her budget shrank by about $20,000.
This comes at a time when increased activity in the Oil Patch brings a greater need for her services in Valley City, Svenningsen said.
She said people from out of state try to find jobs in the Oil Patch but leave when they discover lack of housing. Some of these people, usually husband and wife or boyfriend and girlfriend, head east on Interstate 94 and look for jobs in cities like Jamestown and Valley City.
One person may find a job and the other doesn’t, so tempers flare.
“That’s when we get the call because they start fighting at, start battering each other,” she said.
Svenningsen estimates 10 percent of her clients are from out of state and wish to relocate back to that state.
At Safe Shelter in Jamestown the overall budget is roughly $50,000 less than Valley City. Plus, Safe Shelter relies more heavily on community donations, said Lynne Tally, Safe Shelter director.
She said about 45 percent of funds are federal, 19 percent are from the state and the other roughly 36 percent comes from local donations.
“We rely on the community for a good chunk of money,” Tally said.
Tally said the budget is holding its own due to some state-level funds, but the future may be cloudy with uncertainty over federal budget cuts.
“When we are setting our budget it’s like a putting a puzzle together and we have to find the pieces,” she said. “Sometimes it’s harder than other times.”
Tally said the Legislature is debating a $1.5 million increase to the North Dakota Department of Health, which funds domestic violence service providers.
She said the increase would help expand services but without it, services would be decreased.
“If we don’t get it from the state or federal government we just have to work that much harder locally ... and what that does is take away time to help victims,” Tally said.
On the state level the North Dakota Council on Abused Women’s Services and the Coalition Against Sexual Assault in North Dakota are aware of the problem and working on addressing it.
“It’s vital so these centers are able to provide services to local members in our community,” said Dana Mees, administrative and technology coordinator with NDCAWS/CASAND.
The survey released also shows that in a 24-hour period, 470 victims of domestic violence and their children across North Dakota received life-saving services from local domestic violence organizations. Domestic violence victim advocates in North Dakota answered 76 emergency hotline calls. At the same time, 172 requests for services went unmet, due to funding.
“Obviously that’s due to a critical shortage of funds,” Mees said.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org