The fate of victim services at the YWCA of Clinton is uncertain following a move by the Iowa Attorney General’s Crime Victim Assistance Division to divide the state into six regions.
The YWCA currently serves 650 victims in Clinton and Jackson counties. The reorganization would severely limit the number that could be served, according to Lori Freudenburg, executive director of the local YWCA.
“We have to maintain services in this community,” Freudenburg said.
Clinton is in a region with Davenport, Muscatine, Burlington, Keokuk and Iowa City. Before the reorganization, the individual facilities would receive funds from the federal and state government. While Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller had provided $1.1 million from the Crime Victim Compensation Fund to facilities throughout the state to cover a shortfall caused by a federal and state budget cut for victim services, the Attorney General’s Office has announced the compensation fund will no longer provide this relief.
The re-organization will force facilities within the same region to vie for funds from one pot.
Freudenburg was informed of the decision three weeks ago, with the announcement coming one week after the federal move for most new and existing health plans to offer an array of preventative services, including birth control, at no up-front cost, went into effect. Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling were among the services covered by the law, which is a part of the Health Care Reform Act of 2010. The Clinton YWCA currently offers these services for free.
Other services to be offered without a co-pay include well-woman visits, gestational diabetes screening, contraceptive methods, education and counseling, breastfeeding support, HPV testing, STD counseling and HIV screenings.
Joanne Hermiston, CEO of Women’s Health Services, said at least 12 percent of customers in Clinton County have avoided seeing a doctor because of the cost.
Although the reorganization could cut funds to the Clinton facility completely, it could also mean minimal changes. The full effect of the changes will not be known until next year.
“There’s always a glimmer of hope,” Freudenburg said.
The CVAD will hold a public forum in October to allow community members an opportunity to express their concerns with the re-organization.
“I just want to do what’s best for the victims. We have to support them,” she said. “We need to help people live with dignity.”
In the meantime the Clinton YWCA will be strategically planning for the funding applications for next year, Freudenburg said.