Public meetings will be held today in Atlantic, and tonight in Creston, to discuss a proposal to reorganize statewide victim services. Federal and state funding cuts since 2007 have forced eight programs in Iowa to close, and that’s resulted in larger service areas in pockets of the state – with inequitable divisions of both programming and funding. A reorganization plan would divide the state into six multi-county service areas with the state awarding funding on a competitive basis to programs in each region. Wendy Richter, Director of the Family Crisis Support Network in Atlantic, says they learned of the plan in July. Richter says shelters across the state have saved lives by preventing abuse from escalating into a homicide.
One of 13 public meetings scheduled around the state to discuss the proposed changes in Victim Services in Iowa, takes place at 1:30 this afternoon in Atlantic, in Room 141 at Iowa Western Community College. Another will be held in Room 180 at Southwestern Community College in Creston, beginning at 6-p.m. Richter says officials with the State will talk about funding issues and seek to gather input from communities about Victim Services and how cuts in funding would affect those services.
Plans for the regionalization of services in Iowa, according to Richter, are being modeled after those in other states. She says the apparent goal of regionalization is to maintain some sort of satellite office in the rural areas, but past experience has shown that doesn’t happen effectively. She also questions why there’s a rush to close some shelters and regionalize, when there are funds available to keep the shelters open. The good news is, regardless of funding cuts, the shelter in Atlantic will remain open. She says the Atlantic shelter is independently owned, and, they have a reserve fund to operate from. Other facilities she says, are not that fortunate.