Grant to aid victims of domestic violence
Date: Tuesday, August 09 @ 00:00:55
Topic Our Towns

A federal grant worth nearly $500,000 will help Provo-area victims advocates dedicate new resources to adolescents coping with domestic violence. It will sustain a fledgling support group for Spanish-speaking victims, and it will offset escalating utility bills at the crisis shelter.

Though several local programs anticipate a share of Rural Domestic Violence and Child Victimization Grant in their budgets, the biennial grant is competitive and available nationally to countless government entities and nonprofits. So community victims advocates -- at the Provo Police Department, the Center for Women and Children in Crisis, the Centro Hispano, the Children's Justice Center and the Utah County Domestic Violence Coalition -- relaxed collectively this week upon learning Provo city not only secured the funding yet again, but landed a larger award amount.

Dennis Hansen, director of the Center for Women and Children in Crisis, heard Monday that the shelter's allocation of the city's grant jumped 40 percent for the 2005-2007 period, to $1,400 per month.

"The overall dollar amount is not huge, but since the domestic violence money that is out there is flat or actually shrinking in a lot of areas, the budget is tight and literally every little bit helps," Hansen said. "Each time we keep our fingers crossed because without it we would have to cut something."

Provo has received the federal VAWA grant -- appropriated in 1994 under the Violence Against Women Act sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch -- every two years since 1996, when the city launched its victims advocacy program. The grant supports training for law enforcement officers, hotline personnel, shelter staff and other victims' advocates, plus development and retention of new initiatives.

"We work really hard to accomplish our goals and report accurately the progress we're making, and we also work really hard to pull together," said Provo police spokeswoman Karen Mayne of the collaborative local effort. "I wouldn't say it's surprising that we got it again, but that we've worked really hard to maintain it."

Six months ago, state funding helped implement what has become a highly demanded weekly support group for Spanish-speaking women and children, but Centro Hispano is depending on its renewed VAWA grant share to maintain the program.

A new focus for funding in this two-year period will be outreach to adolescent victims. Mayne said a recent study revealed nearly a quarter of local runaway cases involved domestic violence.

"Everything we do is based on family needs, but we just don't think we've looked close enough yet at that adolescent age group," Mayne said. "We need to work closely with the school district to identify these children as adolescents and see what resources we can provide."

Provo residents reported 477 substantiated cases of domestic violence to police in 1996, compared to 770 at the start of the most recent prior grant period in 2003. Mayne said more than half of the victims seek assistance through one or more of the local victims advocacy resources.