State, federal funding cuts hurting CAPSEA

Proposed cuts in the state budget combined with the loss of federal funding will take their toll on Citizens Against Physical, Sexual and Emotional Abuse, Inc. (CAPSEA), said CAPSEA Executive Director Billie Jo Weyant. CAPSEA, which operates in Elk and Cameron counties, provides housing, meals, counseling, accompaniment, referrals, transportation and support to victims of domestic violence, sexual violence and other serious crime victims and their significant others/children. Victims may stay at the emergency shelter located in Elk County for 30 days or more without charge. Weyant explained that funding for some of the services the shelter provides is issued from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV) and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR). The Title XX and Act 44 Social Services Block Grant is state money that funds domestic violence (DV) and sexual assault (SA) services. Funding for the 2000-2001 fiscal year was $125,453 for DV funding and $40,887 for SA funding. Projected funding for 2011-2012 is $104,323 for DV services and $64,298 for SA services. “We receive our money from PCADV and PCAR. Those are our two main funding sources. They are coalitions, but they also receive funds from the state Department of Public Welfare,” Weyant said, adding that the coalitions also have federal funding line items. PCADV and PCAR hold a contract with DPW to provide certain core services. They in turn contract with agencies like CAPSEA throughout the Commonwealth to provide those core services to adult and child victims and their family members at no cost to the recipients: A 24-hour emergency hotline; crisis intervention; ongoing counseling and support; information and referrals to other agencies; court and police accompaniment and transportation; medical accompaniment and transportation; training for the community, professionals or other agencies, and law enforcement; Protection From Abuse Orders (PFAs), which includes information, transportation, and accompaniment; and support groups. “We’re there, if that victim wants us to be there, from start to finish,” Weyant said. Both domestic violence and sexual assault numbers for Elk and Cameron counties have risen steadily since the 2007-2008 budget year. Domestic violence cases referred to CAPSEA numbered 1,727 in 2007-2008, 2,037 in 2009-2010, and 1,620 so far for 2011-2012. Sexual assault cases referred to the agency were 457 in 2007-2008, 558 for 2009-2010 and number 441 at this point in the current budget year. Much of the funding provided to CAPSEA for the services it provides to victims of domestic and sexual assault, the homeless assistance program, the day-to-day operations of shelter, and one full-time domestic violence counselor and one full-time sexual assault counselor who serve both Elk and Cameron counties--- flow through DPW. At first glance, the proposed state funding doesn’t look too bad, Weyant said, but a closer look indicates that the funding may be inadequate for CAPSEA's needs. “Part of that DPW money that’s flat-funded for the domestic violence and sexual assault piece stays the same. That money helps fund the services of CAPSEA’s domestic violence and sexual assault counselors,” Weyant said. “Right now, the governor has proposed flat funding for domestic violence and sexual assault. But our flat funding is less than what we were receiving back in 2000-2001.”According to Weyant, Human Service Development Fund money through DPW is used to cover expenses related to case management for shelter recipients, room and board, utilities, and shelter maintenance for the homeless, victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and victims of other serious crimes. She said the cost per guest is $25 a day, and the proposed 20-percent funding cut will almost certainly curtail the operation of the shelter, which is open daily year-round. Pick up a copy of the Saturday, April 21, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.