More state, less federal $ for dom. violence

In just one day last year, 2,308 Pennsylvanians received domestic violence services.

On Sept. 12, 2012, the National Census of Domestic Violence Services took a 24-hour snapshot of services rendered to victims of domestic violence across the nation.

By the end of last year, the total number of fatalities in the state reported as being domestic-violence related reached 110.

Pennsylvania ranked seventh in total number of victims served on the survey day. Meanwhile, on that one day alone, more than 900 victims were still turned away due to lack of resources.

“While state funding for domestic violence has remained static for the past several years, and federal funding has continued to decrease, the need for services has continued to increase,” according Terri Allison, executive director for A Safe Place, which serves as the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence community-based program in Warren County.

“Warren and Forest Counties are no exception,” she added.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health “Health Status of Women” report, released in 2000, rates of assault against women hit 70.7 per 100,000 and rates of rape were 17.9 per 100,000.

Last Friday, Gov. Tom Corbett held a press conference outlining a proposal to increase funding for domestic violence programs by approximately 10 percent.

“For decades, we have been struggling to confront a danger to the men and women of Pennsylvania that can exist inside their own homes,” Corbett said in a Friday press release. “That’s why, this year, I have proposed an increase of $1.3 million in funding for Pennsylvania’s domestic violence program.”

According to Allison, the proposed increase in state funding is coinciding with possible cuts in federal funds.

“We are pleased that the governor has recognized the need for more funding to keep up with the demand for these life-saving services and hope this comes to fruition,” Allison said. “However, at the same time, we are very concerned about pending funding cuts due to the federal budget sequestration. We have been told to expect some cuts to our current year funding and additional cuts to next year’s funding.”

Corbett’s proposed funding increase would bring the total state budgeted funding for domestic violence programs to $13.8 million, according to the release.

In 2011-2012, federal social services block grant funding totaled $97.76 million with $5.7 million earmarked for domestic violence programs. Corbett’s budget, released prior to the sequester, assumed a steady $5.7 million in federal block grant funding for domestic violence programs through 2013-2014.

“At this point in time, we do not know locally what this will mean in terms of dollars and cents for A Safe Place and, more importantly, what it will mean in terms of services to the women, men and children who seek our services in Warren and Forest counties,” Allison said. “Each year it gets increasingly more difficult.”