Impact felt locally as Federal Violence Against Women Act expire - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Impact felt locally as Federal Violence Against Women Act expires

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With focus on passing the Fiscal Cliff legislation in a timely manner, the House allowed the Violence Against Women Act to expire. 

The act has provided funding to support victims of domestic violence and help prosecute offenders fro the past 18 years. It's a program that has impacted thousands of women right here in Sioux Falls and across the state of South Dakota.  

The act was up for renewal in 2012.  The Senate passed the act more than 250 days before the first of the year; however, the House let the bill expire before they could come to an agreement. 

Several Republican leaders had issues with new stipulations in the bill that extended the same assistance to members of the LGBT community and illegal immigrants. 

Domestic violence advocates must now try and fill the void of that funding until another law is passed.

 

"Sometimes in our little state and our little towns we forget about that what they're deciding in Washington, DC does affect us all," said Children's Inn director Amy Carter. 

The Children's Inn in Sioux Falls is one of many organizations that utilize federal dollars. 

Currently about 14 percent of Children's Inn budget is comprised of federal dollars; only a small portion of those federal dollars used to come from the Violence Against Women Act. 

But the Children's Inn is not the only organization in Sioux Falls affected by this specific federal cut. 

"Our local government, our local law enforcement, coalitions, state networks that receive that funding and then it trickles down to shelters across the state," said Carter.

Those cuts directly impact the domestic violence victims who utilize those services. 

"Your victims are the ones who really suffer; there's always the potential if a program doesn't get the funding they need that they would have to close their doors or decrease the services they provide," said Carter. 

With the overall budget cuts and planning going on in Congress right now, domestic violence organizations are not the only nonprofits feeling the pinch from Washington. 

"There was a day when the Boys and Girls Club had a line item in the appropriations budget and that has shrunk over the years until not all clubs even receive those dollars at all anymore," said Sioux Falls Boys and Girls Clubs Chief Executive Officer Karen Fogas. 

All nonprofits in the area are supported by several different public and private grants than can change on a yearly basis. 

"With any funding source there is a lot of instability, you just never know from year to year is the same amount going to be available?" said Carter. 

These organizations often stretch every penny out of each dollar they receive, so any changes in funding can make a huge impact. 

"When we feel a pinch from any source, whether it's federal, ultimately federal passing through to state or even individuals as they deal with the uncertainty of the Fiscal Cliff and those sorts of things that can hit our bottom line really hard," said Fogas. 

When these organizations feel that financial pinch, it can be felt across the whole community in jobs and services that are lost, but especially by the people who benefit from their services. 

It's a big trickle-down effect that can be seen all over the nation as Congress works to manage our national budget.

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