State budget crunch hits regional domestic violence program

Lee County Board of Supervisors board passed a 2nd reading of proposed minimum wage increase to $8.20/hour. The move requires one more reading which will take place on the 28th in Keokuk. PCC file photo.








MONTROSE – Domestic Violence is being targeted by state funding cuts and the local advocacy group is looking for places to help fill potential gaps.

Kristie Doser, executive director of the Domestic Violence Intervention Program Region 6, addressed the Lee County Board of Supervisors at Tuesday’s regular meeting asking for $2,000 to help with mobility programs.

“That is the service that allows us to meet them where they’re at,” Doser said. “We meet them at a school, meet them at their bank, at the grocery store, coffee shops.To put it bluntly if that’s the only place where they can get away alone… we’ll meet you there.”

Doser said the $118 million shortfall the state’s up against in the current fiscal year has resulted in talks about reducing funding to local domestic violence programs by as much as 45%. The state funding portion only represents about 10% of the DVIP budget and Doser said although that doesn’t seem like a lot, those funds trigger matching funds from the federal funding which is 49% of the DVIP budget.

“That’s the real critical component here,” Doser said. “There are matching funds from the federal government at stake when the state reduces its support. So it has the potential to be much more damaging.”

The DVIP is the group that came in about three years ago after the Tri-State Coalition Against Domestic Violence left the area. Doser said at the same time that transition took place, a restructuring of funding also took place and the state helped out with filling some of the gaps.

“We do have bipartisan support in the state legislature,” Doser said, “But right now what we’re hearing out of the negotiations is that we could be losing up to 45% of our state funding. To lose half would be


devastating, no other way to put it. It’s not a statement on parties, it’s just the information we’re hearing right now.

She said the Board of Supervisors had a long history of supporting the Tri-State Coalition when they were in place. But Doser said she didn’t want to go in heavy-handed and ask for a lot, despite saying services would likely increase 20% over the last fiscal year.

“We’ve been here two and half years and have established great relationships with key players,” Doser said. “But at this point we have to come back and talk a little about funding. We’ve known for some time that (President) Trump has had the Office of Violence Against Women and domestic violence programs in his cross hairs and we’ve heard in the last four days that he’s planning on recommending those resources be closed down.”

She also said the public energy on the state budget shortfall is focusing on higher education, corrections and public safety, but in the background are the other entities facing cuts. She said she couldn’t ask the county to make up the whole difference.

“Bluntly, there’s no way they could make up the whole difference. This is the first time we’ve approached them for funding and I quite literally heard all this right before I met with them. I literally had a migraine.”

The DVIP program services eight counties including Lee, Des Moines, Cedar, Washington, Iowa, Henry, Van Buren and Johnson. Doser said they do get funding from Johnson and she is working with the other counties.

“We do very well with local resources. We’re very proactive about that and our budget is healthy not taking into consideration the proposed cuts.”

The group will also be holding it’s first annual Keokuk Souper Bowl fundraiser on Feb. 7 where patrons can purchase a bowl created by local artists and then help themselves to as much soup as they can eat and listen to live music. Nine area restaurants will be providing soup for the fundraiser to be held at the First Christian Church in Keokuk, 3476 Main Street from 5:30 to 7:30. Cost is $15 per ticket or a table of six for $75.


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