Rhonda Dean, Executive Director for the Centers against Abuse and Sexual Assault, told the Buena Vista County Board of Supervisors Tuesday that due to budget cuts and decline in donations and contributions, they were forced to close their Emmetsburg outreach office.
In addition she says they cut two full time administrative and one part time advocacy staff person in the past year.
"We've seen an increase in the need of our services," says Dean. In the first six months of 2008, CAASA saw 336 new clients. CAASA is requesting $5,000 for fiscal year 2010 from the County, up $500 from what they requested and received in the past fiscal year to help continue providing services.
Dean said since they added one full time advocate in Buena Vista County in 2006 they've seen more people coming in to utilize their services. "If you build it they will come," she says. Dean said with the increase in numbers, victim advocacy is obviously a needed service in the community and says they continue to strive to serve their clients in anyway they can. "Victim services is the most important part of what we do," she says. Dean said the funding is needed to help keep the necessary non-profit service operating. CAASA operates with a mission to eliminate personal, institutional and societal violence against individuals by empowering victims/survivors and providing supportive programs and services, Dean says.
Currently CAASA provides services in eight counties including BV County and services include a 24 hour crisis line, crisis counselling and advocacy and support groups for both children and adults, shelter, medical and legal advocacy, school outreach and violence prevention programs, community education opportunities and professional education. CAASA offers shelter locations in Spirit Lake, Cherokee and Spencer with outreach offices in Storm Lake and Estherville.
Dean says 65 percent of their funding comes from federal and state grants, however, says these grants are competitive and they usually don't find out about grant amounts until April. The remaining 35 percent are provided by contributions, fundraisers and City and County government support.