For the Daily Gate City
The Crime Victim Assistance Division of the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, Department of Justice, is proposing a statewide restructuring of how services to victims of domestic and sexual abuse will be funded.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller released his department’s plan recently to respond to funding deficits at the state and federal level for serving victims of sexual and domestic violence in Iowa.
Miller’s department cites a decade of sustained losses, this year’s 14 percent federal cut, and last year’s 10 percent state funding cut as creating a significant deficit in Iowa’s response to victims of violent crime.
Sexual assault and domestic violence programs are facing closure throughout Iowa because of the financial shortfall.
Services funded through the Crime Victim’s Assistance Division of the Iowa Attorney General’s Office will be regionalized – divided into six new regions under the new plan. Funds will be distributed to each region. Programs in each region are developing regional service plans based on a funding formula that will include four comprehensive service contracts for each region: shelter-based services, domestic abuse comprehensive services, sexual abuse comprehensive services and culturally specific services.
“(We are) making this restructuring proposal because the funding for crime victim service grants is inadequate to provide quality services to all crime victims unless changes are made in the way those services are delivered. Cost savings and efficiencies must be realized by delivering services in new and better ways,” according to the Crime Victim Assistance Division.
In August, staff from the Crime Victim Assistance Division met with directors from each region to discuss the proposal.
In September, follow-up meetings among directors in the Southeast Region began and will continue through December.
“At this time we do not know what this will mean for Tri-State Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Abuse as funds from six state and federal grants administered by the Crime Victim Assistance Division represent 60 percent of the revenue to our agency,” according to coalition Director Sue Prochazka.
Tri-State Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Abuse is included in the 14-county Southeast Region, which already has seven programs serving victims in Clinton, Davenport, Muscatine, Iowa City, Keokuk and two in Burlington.
“While we have strong concerns about the impact of regional services reaching smaller communities and rural areas, we are committed to making sure that individuals in Lee and Van Buren counties will have access to quality services and that private dollars stay local,” Prochazka said. “Given that the fund distribution will only support one or two shelters per region, we anticipate that we will close our shelter facility during the next year.
“While private donations help support shelter operations, costs associated with 24-hour staffing are paid with state and federal grants,” she added. “Because two-thirds of those we help seek our services on an outreach basis, we will work hard to ensure counseling and advocacy services remain available.”
There are many questions and challenges that come with regionalized services, Prochazka said. Among those questions will be concerns about logistics – how to get someone who seeks shelter to the region’s shelter – wherever the shelter is established.
The Tri-State Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Abuse asks for input and support from its friends, donors and community stakeholders to help with the transition.
Community members also will have an opportunity to participate in public meetings held by the Crime Victim Assistance Division this month.
Tri-State Coalition will meet with individuals and community groups during October and ask for feedback. To help during this time of transition, contact Prochazka at 524-8520.
A special email has been designated for area residents’ thoughts, comments and concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daily Gate City Staff Writer Cindy Iutzi contributed to this story.