County continues funding for Domestic Abuse, Sexual Assault Services

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

McCOOK, Neb. — At their weekly meeting Monday morning, Red Willow County commissioners agreed to contribute $10,096 for the 2018-19 budget of Domestic Abuse/Sexual Assault Services based in McCook.

That’s the same amount DASAS requested from the county last year, DASAS director Donna Goad told commissioners, despite the McCook office seeing a 21.5 percent increase in the number of crisis line phone calls its advocates answered.

Goad said that DASAS advocates received 960 crisis line phone calls, compared to 790 phone calls the year before.

“There’s no rhyme or reason for an increase like that,” Donna explained after the county officials’ meeting. “There’s no logic to it.”

Providers of services to victims of domestic abuse/sexual assault have tried for years to figure out the whys and wherefores of increases in numbers of incidents, Donna said. “There just are no answers. There is no one thing that happens.”

Donna said that they do know that increased stresses within families and increases in drug and alcohol abuse are factors, but it’s still hard to track the cause of a one-year increase such as that seen in the number of crisis phone calls to DASAS in 2017-18.

In Red Willow County, DASAS assisted 233 families in 2017-18, compared to 247 the year before and 206 the year before that. “We normally help about 200 families a year,” Donna said.

Donna told commissioners that her office serves families, couples and individuals in seven Southwest Nebraska counties — Chase, Dundy, Hayes, Hitchcock, Frontier, Red Willow and Furnas — and provide necessities like food, clothing and transportation, “and the financial assistance that helps keep a roof over their heads.”

She said that the continued support of the counties ensures that victims of domestic violence, dating violence, family violence, human trafficking, sexual assault and stalking continue to receive the crucial resources and financial assistance needed to help them recover.

DASAS also provides medical, criminal justice, civil justice and economic advocacy; homelessness prevention; and safety planning and risk and lethality assessment; and age-appropriate programs on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, personal body safety, healthy relationships, bullying and internet safety.

Donna said they also provide access to other community agencies. With the coming retirement (in March 2019) of the community services coordinator of the Community Action Partnership of Mid-Nebraska office in McCook, Donna said, “I don’t want Barb (Ostrum) to ever retire.” She said that she and Barb have worked together well to make sure that families get the services they need. They’ve ensured, too, that their services are not duplicated, that they complement each other to serve families in an efficient, effective manner.

Donna said the DASAS projected budget for 2018-19 is $306,586, up $42,709 over the actual budget of $263,877.34 in 2017-18. Two major increases are projected in conferences and training (from $1,003 to $8,100); and travel (from $9,236 to $16,500).

Client services are expected to increase: Transportation, from $76 to $1,000; shelter, from $4,287 to $9,800; medical, from $0 to $500; legal, from $6,837 to $20,000; food, from $124 to $1,000; and financial assistance, from $4,057 to $9,750.

Personnel costs will increase from $176,495 to $182,792.

Despite these anticipated increases, Donna said they’re requesting the same amount of assistance from Red Willow County as in 2017-18 because they’re aware of the budget constraints of the counties in which they offer services. “We’re making our budget work with what we’ve been given,” Donna said. It’s as cost effective and efficient as possible, she said.

In addition to funding from counties, DASAS also receives funding from:

— Nebraska Health and Human Services: From the state, $46,857.17 in 2017-18, and $49,038 anticipated in 2018-19; and from the federal government’s Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) program, (the primary federal funding stream dedicated to emergency shelter and assistance for victims of domestic violence and their children) $34,000,71 in 2017-18, and $35,048 anticipated in 2018-19.

— Nebraska Crime Commission: Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), $96,837 in 2017-18, and $138,166 anticipated in 2018-19; and Sexual Assault Services Program (SASP), $11,408.92 in 2017-18, and $13,436 anticipated in 2018-19.

— Local sources: City/County, $27,548 in 2017-19, and $27,550 anticipated in 2018-19; and McCook Community Foundation, $6,208 in 2017-18, and $6,500 anticipated in 2018-19.

— Contributions, $5,082 in 2017-18, and $5,500 anticipated in 2018-19.

— Fundraising, $16,258 in 2017-18, and $20,500 anticipated in 2018-19.

Donna acknowledged that the DASAS budget is a challenge, “but there are lots of needs out there.”

Commissioners Earl McNutt, Jacque Riener and Steve Downer voted unanimously to make the contribution to DASAS. Riener said, “Without your service, there would be a much higher cost to society.”

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