State offers $500,000 to fight domestic violence | CraigDailyPress.com

State offers $500,000 to fight domestic violence

Christina M. Currie

— For the first time in history, the Colorado Legislature voted to spend money to prevent and treat domestic violence, making Colorado the 49th state to appropriate funds for family violence.

House Bill 1115 was signed by Gov. Bill Owens last month. It allocates $250,000 toward basic victim services including food, shelter and counseling and $250,000 in legal aid to victims of domestic violence who need representation.

The state judicial branch also received $1.2 million in federal funds for a project aimed at keeping batterers from repeating offenses.

The bill calls for the funding to increase by $300,000 next year.

“Finally,” Advocates-Crisis Support Services Director Pat Tessmer said. “People have worked long and hard to get general fund, line item money for domestic violence.”

For Moffat County, it means Advocates will have an additional $5,000 to spend this year.

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Tessmer had to request the money the same way one would apply for a grant by outlining what would be done with the money and providing a cash match.

The match was the hardest thing for Advocates to find because most of its money is earmarked for specific uses. Tessmer used annual contributions from the Moffat County United Way and the Moffat County Board of Commissioners to make the match.

The funds will be used to offset increased rent at the new Advocates office space in Country Mall. The move to Country Mall also gave Advocates the space for a room for group meetings, therapy and counseling. Part of the funding will be used to ensure continuing group services.

Funds will be distributed in October and are shared between 43 programs in Colorado. Program coordinators may request any amount of money, but Tessmer believes the distribution was fairly equal in this first year of funding.

HB1115 also continues the original funding for domestic violence which is the voluntary tax check-off. Since 1983, Coloradans have had the option of donating part of their tax refunds to domestic-violence related programs. Last year, the voluntary check-off raised almost $300,000.

Passage of HB1115 leaves Arkansas as the only state that does not provide funding for domestic violence programs.