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Snapshot: Kentucky Domestic Violence Programs Straining from Cuts

PHOTO: A one-day snapshot of Kentucky domestic violence services shows requests for help going unmet. According to the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence, much of that has to do with the cost of maintaining shelters and housing. Photo courtesy Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
PHOTO: A one-day snapshot of Kentucky domestic violence services shows requests for help going unmet. According to the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence, much of that has to do with the cost of maintaining shelters and housing. Photo courtesy Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
June 11, 2015

FRANKFORT, Ky. – A snapshot of Kentucky domestic violence services shows shelters straining under the pressure of budget cuts, and the need to lend life-or-death assistance to victims and survivors.

In a single day – September 10, 2014 – the state's 15 domestic violence programs provided services such as safe shelter, counseling and legal services in nearly 1,000 instances.

But according to Sherry Currens, executive director with the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence, their combined efforts still could not meet nearly 100 requests for help. She says two of the largest shelters were facing repairs that reduced available space by a third.

"Our shelter in Ashland had to have a complete renovation," she says. "So they went from 50 to about 17 for most of last year."

Currens says the maintenance issues are related to budget pressure that's also squeezing staff levels.

The snapshot results come from the ninth annual National Network to End Domestic Violence national one-day census. According to the Kentucky coalition, tightening of federal budgets has meant less money at the exact moment building-repair costs and personnel expenses are going up. Currens says right now they have an $18 million budget gap.

"The problem our programs are facing is that our staffing expenses have skyrocketed and we've been able to access fewer federal grants," she says.

According to Currens, most domestic violence shelters "hate" turning people away. She says they know their services can be a matter of survival for people who might be in a dangerous and volatile situation.

"We try really hard. We may put them in a hotel, work with a homeless shelter," she says. "Most of our shelters operate at capacity all the time."

The national domestic violence hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - KY