Proposed Elimination of Domestic Violence Contracts

December 18, 2010

Federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funding provides services for applicants currently struggling with domestic abuse through contracts with community domestic violence programs. TANF are federal funds administered by the state.

This program is a direct outgrowth of Nevada’s election of the Family Violence Option. Victims are identified by the Division of Welfare and referred to domestic violence shelters – in some cases the first time such a referral may ever have been made.

Minimally, these contracted services keep victims safe. In best case scenarios, this time and support enable victims to stabilize their lives, learn essential skills, access community resources, obtain a job and become independent supporters of their families. TANF provides a way out of a domestic violence situation by providing financial support and job training that might not be available otherwise.

Domestic violence is a serious crime. Nevada ranks # 1 in the nation (per capita) in the number of women killed by men. Research shows that access to services reduces homicides. Reductions in services will put women at higher risk for life threatening violence.

If this program is eliminated as currently proposed under the 10% cuts, the following programs will lose funding and services will be reduced:
Humboldt Winnemucca Domestic Violence Services
(formally Winnemucca Domestic Violence Shelter) $13,000.00
Lyon Alternatives to Living in Violent Environments $999.00
Washoe Committee to Aid Abused Women $92,963.00
Washoe Safe Embrace 7,960.00
Clark SafeNest $147,000.00
Clark SAFE House $95,568.00
Elko Committee Against Domestic Violence $60,000.00
Churchill Domestic Violence Intervention $500.00
Nye No To Abuse $500.00
Carson City Advocates to End Domestic Violence $190,000.00
Total: $608,490.00

How are these funds used? Is there value for these services?
The welfare applicants that are identified are referred to the appropriate domestic violence shelter. The shelters provide all or some of the following services:

  • Bednights for the victim or family
  • Development of a Safety Plan for the family
  • Development of an Action Plan to enable the family to prioritize and implement the steps to become independent (job training, job searches, child care, house hunting)
  • Assistance in getting the victims a Temporary Protection Order
  • Schedule the victim to attend appropriate counseling and educational opportunities (parenting classes, group therapy, resume writing, job hunting support etc)

What equivalent services will be lost?
Since each person or family we serve has unique needs, a standard measure of service is the bednight. Each bednight is reimbursed at an average rate of $35.00 per night even though the actual cost of a bednight ranges between $100 and $150 per night. Our service is cost effective and would be difficult to find anywhere else.

We estimate that 15,444 bednights of safety will be lost without TANF funds. History shows these families might never have gone to seek help at shelters…from now on they will be fending for themselves or remain with their abusers out of necessity.

For every service eliminated, service jobs are lost.

Agency # Current Staff Job Losses % Dec
Winnemucca Domestic Violence Shelter 5 1 20%
Committee to Aid Abused Women (Reno) 17 4 24%
Safe Embrace (Reno) 3.5 1 29%
SafeNest (Las Vegas) (25 shelter staff) 57 5 9%
SAFE House (Henderson) 22 2 9%
Committee Against DV (Elko) 4.5 2 44%
Advocates to End Domestic Violence 19 2 10%

These cuts will be particularly devastating in rural areas and in Washoe County. While the cuts don’t appear to be as significant in Clark County they will have direct impact on core shelter and case management services.
Leaders from a variety of social service agencies have been quoted lately, noting that cutting services now will cost more in the long run. Budget cuts will undermine our efforts to assist victims, who may now be even more inclined to stay in abusive homes because of decreasing access to assistance.
For example, TANF has historically contracted with Nevada’s domestic violence shelters to provide services such as shelter beds, job training, child care, and child support enforcement services. Current proposed budget cuts will eliminate these contracts. Put in terms of nights that would provide a safe place for women and children, these budget cuts would eliminate 15,444 bednights of safety.

In a state that consistently ranks in the top five for domestic violence homicide, Nevadans simply cannot afford to lose any more services, or lives.
Contact our governor and legislators and let them know these cuts place families in danger. Ask our politicians to carefully consider the real, long-term implications, as well as the ultimate cost, of budget cuts. With short-term solutions, everyone pays the price later, some possibly with their lives.

Source: http://myspj.com/commentary/guest-opinion-and-letters-to-editor/999-proposed-elimination-of-domestic-violence-contracts