Friday, December 4, 2015

Some Federal Dollars Released to PA Domestic-Violence Programs

Andrea Sears, Public News Service 

The state budget impasse has meant the shelter system for domestic-violence victims in Pennsylvania has cut staff and services just to stay open. Credit: Dion Gillard/flickr.com
The state budget impasse has meant the shelter system for domestic-violence victims in Pennsylvania has cut staff and services just to stay open. Credit: Dion Gillard/flickr.com
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The state has been directed to release $1.4 million of federal money to programs for domestic-violence shelters.

The money was being held up in Harrisburg by the continuing budget impasse. More will be coming through the federal Victims of Crime Act.

Peg Dierkers, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said the infusion of cash will allow domestic-violence centers in the state to breathe a brief sigh of relief.

"Hopefully," she said, "with a combination of those two pots of federal money, they can keep those crisis services operating until the Legislature and the governor finally pass the total budget."

The federal funds are just part of the $11 million due for domestic-violence programs by the end of this month that have been held up in the budget stalemate.

With no money coming from the state for the past five months, almost all of the 60 domestic-violence centers in the state have had to curtail services. According to Dierkers, that has put lives at risk.

"For example, there's one program in south-central Pennsylvania that has had 200 people who were trying to escape violence in their homes," she said. "They had to turn them away."

She said programs around the state have been borrowing money and laying off staff to maintain some level of service to victims. The federal money will allow some shelters to make payroll for the month, but Dierkers predicted it won't last long.

"Clearly, at the beginning of 2016," she said, "if the budget still is not passed, we'll be back trying to piece together services and trying to keep things going."

She emphasized that domestic-violence victims anywhere in Pennsylvania still can find services through the coalition's website at PCADV.org.

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