Women's shelters hard-hit by state budget cuts
BATON ROUGE - Last week Governor Jindal cut the Department of Children and Family Services by more than 20 percent. Now those cuts are trickling down to domestic violence shelters.
"I felt like I had been kicked. It's such a devastating feeling," said Audrey Wascome, the interim director for the Capitol Area Family Violence Intervention Center in Baton Rouge.
Wascome says the news the shelters were losing nearly $100,000 took her completely by surprise.
"When someone calls and we don't have the room, we either use money to put them in a hotel or locate them to another shelter... or even across state lines. But with budget cuts we just will not have the money," says Wascome.
She says they will lose six beds in their 26-bed facility, where there is already a waiting list. But the Department of Children and Family Services says they want to try a different way of running the state's shelters.
"We're trying to do is move toward a new model of delivery. A model that really moves away from residential type of settings such as shelters which are really short-term in nature," said Trey Williams, director of Communications and Governmental Affairs at DCFS..
In the meantime, the state's remaining shelters will continue to try to give abused women a way to safety. But Wascome doesn't seem hopeful about the future.
"Every shelter in the state has gotten these same exact cuts. But the likelihood of them having an open room, is pretty small," she said.
And when asked what will happen next?
"That is what we are most nervous about,"she said.
The shelters also get some money from private donations.