The executive director of the YWCA of Clinton is sharing more information about a statewide move toward regionalization that threatens a Clinton institution, the YWCA Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Resource Center.
Lori Freudenberg of the YWCA said that in a strategic re-organization plan presented by the Crime Victim Assistance Division, the department that distributes and administers funds to domestic violence and sexual assault programs in Iowa, the state was divided into six regions.
CVAD is suggesting for each region, one comprehensive domestic violence program, one comprehensive sexual abuse program and one comprehensive shelter. Clinton is grouped in a region with Davenport, Muscatine, Burlington, Keokuk and Iowa City.
The CVAD has given each region the charge to organize these three services as providers best feel it suits the communities.
This strategic plan came about after Tom Miller, Iowa Attorney General Office, authorized the distribution of $1.1 million from the Crime Victim Compensation Fund to reduce the impact of a 14 percent federal and state budget cut for victim services in the State of Iowa, something he has done for many of the past years.
Miller ordered the CVAD to develop a strategic plan for sustainability of victim services throughout the state of Iowa as he would not reauthorize dollars from the compensation fund in fiscal year 2013-2014.
This situation has nothing to do with 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, Freudenberg said.
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 has always offered these services for free.
The regionalization of domestic violence/sexual assault services and the Health Care Reform Act and are entirely different situations — one has nothing to do with the other, she said.
What does this mean for the YWCA of Clinton?
The YWCA currently serves both Clinton and Jackson counties with domestic violence/sexual assault services. Every year, more than 650 victims in these two counties receive court advocacy, medical advocacy, counseling, and/or shelter.
This move toward regionalization will severely limit the number of people served, Freudenberg said. The YWCA Board of Directors’ first priority is the welfare of those victims who need services, she said.
As talks continue with other service providers in the region, the YWCA will work hard to make sure services are not interrupted, lacking or non-existent. Projected loss of CVAD funding in Clinton County is estimated at $256,000, Freudenberg said.
“This is obviously news we were not pleased to receive,” said Ronelle Clark, YWCA Crisis Services Director. “We are working with our community agencies, other community partners and our state legislators to figure out how we can continue to provide the much needed programs and services currently provided by the YWCA with the CVAD funding.”
However, this restructuring does affect the Jackson County office as this area has been allocated to the Northeast Region – which includes Dubuque, Waterloo, Waverly, and Decorah.
If the regionalization proposal goes forward, the YWCA will close this office effective June 2013. This county will then be served through the Northeast Region. The YWCA will work with the Northeast region to ensure services to victims continue in the Jackson County area.
Freudenberg urges citizens to call Governor Terry Branstad, Senator Tod Bowman, Representative Mary Wolfe, Representative Brian Moore, Representative Steven Olson, Attorney General Tom Miller, and CVAD Director Janelle Melohn.
“Express to these elected officials how important it is to keep these services in Clinton and Jackson Counties. Victims cannot travel out of this community for services. They’ve already experienced a traumatic situation. Taking them away from their home, their job, their support system will increase barriers to their independent and violence-free life,” she said.
CVAD plans to hold public forums in October for communities to express concerns regarding regionalization. The YWCA will provide the community with date, time, and locations as this information becomes available.
The YWCA opened the Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Resource Center in 1978. Since that time, the number of people served each year has increased. In 2010-2011, 650 victims of these crimes were given protective services, and sheltered nights totaled 1938.
“Without these services located in Clinton and Jackson counties,” Freudenberg said, “victims will go unaided and continue to live in a violent situation, have to travel to receive services, making it impossible to retain their job, employers will see victims who are unproductive or absent, taxpayers will see an increase in their taxes as more services are mandated to transport victims to and from locations so that the children are uninterrupted with their schooling, and Clinton police officers will have more domestic violence situations and nowhere to get help for the victims.”