August 29, 2014

Budget plan would give biggest boost to domestic violence services in a decade

The budget proposal passed yesterday by the House includes an increase of $1.9 million dollars in state support for the fight against domestic violence. That would raise the amount that goes to help victims to more than $8.4 million dollars.

CEO Colleen Coble with the Missouri Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Violence says that would be spread between about 90 programs across the state including 70 shelters.

“This increase, $1.9 million more dollars for domestic violence services is the biggest increase we’ve had for more than, gosh, 10 years.”

Coble says that money will go a long way.

“These dollars will directly help battered women and their children … give them a place to stay. It will help operate crisis lines in communities throughout Missouri, it will help women get orders of protection by having service advocates who can help them navigate through the court system, a whole host of services directly for women and their children.”

Programs also provide job training for victims, counseling programs, transportation and medical care.

Coble says the increase helps, but the amount of money it would take to help all victims would be frightening.

“We currently turn away more than 18,000 women and children who are in need of services at the moment they call their local program, so we’re not keeping pace.”

She says local support is needed to help keep shelters open, and it would be key if shelters are to expand to provide room to help more victims.

“We really area at a point where capital needs … building extra bedrooms, building more space … is really an issue, and that is an area where local community involvement and generosity has made all the difference.”

The budget goes now to the Senate which is likely to propose changes that would have to be negotiated in a House-Senate committee.