CSADV worries about reaching victims after budget cuts
By Kristen Johnson, Multimedia Journalist/ Weekend Anchor - bio | email
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -
A million dollar cut to a budget that keeps doors open to women's and children's shelters across Iowa means some major changes are on the way.
Some fear the reorganization will leave the people these groups serve, with no place to go.
Budget cuts are not new to Sioux City's Council on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. Executive Director Margaret Sanders says social services are often the first place leaders look to when times get tough.
"We need to come up with a plan, and we need to come up with a plan quickly," said Sanders.
CSADV's million dollar budget has dropped by 20-percent in recent years. However, more cuts are coming. The state Crime Victims Assistance Division, part of the Attorney General's office, plans to divide the state into six regions, and consolidating programs in the hopes of stretching services farther. This means Sioux City, which serves three Northwest Iowa counties will have to serve 20.
"Within that 20 county area it's hard to imagine how services can be provided, efficiently and effectively," explained Sanders.
CSADV makes it their mission to get to victims within 30-minutes of a report of abuse. Under the new plan, it would take close to three hours to get drive to the farthest part of the district. A victim would also have to travel that far, to get to a Sioux City shelter.
"I hope no one is killed because they can't access services," said Jackie Smith, the Chairwoman of the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors.
The challenge facing CSADV is the latest example of the financial struggles many non-profits face. Donations are down while the number of people in need is up.
"We have a lot of people living in the lower tier of the economic spectrum," Katie Colling, Executive Director of Woman Aware explained.
She has served the organization for more than two decades.
"This is probably the most difficult challenge I've faced in my 21 years. Women Aware, we're struggling," said Katie.
Women Aware sends about 30-percent of their cases to CSADV.
"As their resources dwindle, so do our opportunities," Colling explained.
Throwing money at the problem is not feasible, but Colling says it's also not the answer.
"We look at different strategies when there's no money at the table. There are strategies, but you need that whole spectrum of people in the community to think of strategies. So, then it becomes more of conversation of opportunities, not just a conversation about what's lacking," she added.
Sanders has come up with a counter proposal that would keep a shelter in Sioux Center and one in Spencer open to help with rural abuse cases. She's still waiting for the feedback from the state. That should come by the end of the year.
A community-wide meeting led by state officials is scheduled in Sioux City for this October.
CSADV also serves Union County, South Dakota and Dakota County, Nebraska.
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