By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer
After a thorough budget examination, officials have pinpointed the cost of maintaining services for victims of domestic or sexual abuse through a state-driven restructuring.
Clinton YWCA Executive Director Lori Freudenberg said she will need to raise at least $100,000 for her organization to continue to provide victims with the same services under the Iowa Attorney General’s proposed move to regionalize those services throughout the state.
In total, the Clinton YWCA is facing a $240,000 budget shortfall that represents nearly 80 percent of its budget due to the regionalization plan that calls for counties to be divided into six regions. Under this plan, Clinton is part of a 14-county region that also includes Davenport, Iowa City, Burlington and Keokuk. In each of these regions, the state will fund one or two emergency shelter programs, one or two comprehensive domestic violence programs, and/or two comprehensive sexual assault programs.
“It might save (the state) money, but it’s not saving us or the people being served or the people serving the people,” Jackson County Supervisor Jack Willey said.
Programs will be able to apply through a competitive grant process to host these services. Those awarded the grants would need to provide whatever service they receive funding for the victims throughout the entire region, which could include subcontracting with another facility to make sure all victims within the region are served.
Clinton and Jackson counties were originally proposed to be in separate regions.
However, a new map has been drafted with the two counties proposed to be in the same region.
Crime Victims Assistance Division Director Janelle Melohn said her office was swayed by the presentations made by Jackson and Clinton county officials during a public meeting in October to address the proposed changes. During that meeting Willey as well as Freudenberg and many other YWCA employees stressed the already strong coalition between the two counties.
“A lot of the argument rested on the fact that there were already those partnerships,” Melohn said. “It made sense. We don’t want to stop that.”
On Wednesday, Freudenberg asked the Jackson County Board of Supervisors for a $10,000 funding bump in fiscal year 2014 in order to help fund the YWCA’s financial needs.
The Clinton YWCA has provided services in Jackson County for 20 years and 30 years in Clinton. Victims have access to community education, a 24-hour crisis line, counseling, emergency shelter, transitional housing as well as court advocate services.
According to Freudenberg, 400 people were served by the Jackson County facility last year. This number only accounts for the victim’s first visit and does not account for any subsequent visits.
Jackson County currently gives the YWCA $3,500 in annual funding and Freudenberg said if the Supervisors agreed to grant the additional $10,000 in funding it would all be allocated to services in Jackson County including the addition of a second advocate to provide services.
“These services are a huge asset to my office and also to law enforcement. They provide services that we can’t,” Jackson County Attorney Sara Davenport said. “If we lose the resource center here in Jackson County, I feel that my office will be filling that gap.”
Davenport said while her office would help these victims if services were lost, it raises concerns about what other items would need to be delayed.
Freudenberg said she will be asking both Clinton and Jackson counties as well as all cities and churches within them to help reach the $100,000 funding goal for fiscal year 2014. If the funding is not obtained, she said tough decisions will need to be made which she believes could lead to even tougher decisions for victims.
“We feel that if we go away...we know people will choose to live in a violent home,” Freudenberg said.