Domestic Violence Centers Could See Overhaul

By Nadia Crow, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — CEDAR RAPIDS — Waypoint Services in Cedar Rapids and the Domestic Violence Shelter in Iowa City could be due for changes as the state looks to reorganize domestic abuse services.

Attorney General Tom Miller says he wants the Legislature to provide $6 million to modernize state domestic violence services. He wants to close 12 out of 20 state-funded shelters, and use $2 million of that money to consolidate domestic violence services into six regions.

Angela Kron, chief development officer for Waypoint Services in Cedar Rapids, said only one domestic violence services provider in each region will be chosen, and Waypoint is competing with other organizations in its region.

Waypoint provides services to victims of both domestic violence and sexual assault, but it hopes to be the northeast region's domestic violence services hub.

"We will be essentially the expert in the region related to domestic violence, we will coordinate services with other programs around the region," said Waypoint Services Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services Co-Director Michael Shaw.

On Thursday, members of the attorney general's crime victim assistance division will release the full results of a pilot program conducted at Waypoint, which ended its traditional shelter and started reorganizing in 2008.

Shaw said the nonprofit changed its approach by offering solutions based on the victims' needs, even if they didn't require shelter services.

The number of victims Waypoint was able to serve under the new model increased 250 percent.

Shaw said in 2008 it cost $1,558 on average to shelter a person and $558 to offer outreach services.

"Resources were being disproportionately used to maintain the traditional shelter model and weren't available to support women in the ways they were asking," Shaw said. "We're not about telling women what to do, but supporting them in what they need."

Waypoint still can help victims find safe housing. It provides services to people as far south as Linn County, as far north as Decorah, and as far West as Waterloo, Kron said.

The Domestic Violence Intervention Program does provide shelter, however, and Miller's plan might reduce beds at the facility, while doubling its coverage area.

Miller's plan also would use $4 million to add 98 more victims' advocates across the state, like Sarah Hefflefinger, a social worker at St. Luke's Hospital.

"We very regularly see domestic violence victims in here on a daily basis," Hefflefinger said. Advocates help victims find shelter or counseling, and help them with the legal system.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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