Archive for Thursday, July 13, 2006

Fed cutoff mystifies Leavenworth agency

July 13, 2006

Kay Andersen keeps going over in her mind why the Alliance Against Family Violence lost a federal grant that provides about a third of the Leavenworth County agency's annual budget.

Andersen, the alliance's executive director, said last week the federal Rural Domestic Violence and Child Victimization Fund had notified the alliance its $250,000 annual grant would not be renewed.

"We got no feedback in two years that we weren't doing everything they wanted us to do, and we're the same community we were two years ago when we met all their criteria," she said. "I don't know."

At a news conference last Friday outside the Leavenworth County Justice Center, surrounded by a phalanx of law enforcement officials from Lansing, Leavenworth and Leavenworth County, area politicians, candidates and other supporters, Andersen explained what the loss of the grant money would mean.

"Over the past several years, the Alliance Against Family violence has depended upon this money to support our victim-advocacy program, our case-management program, our child therapy-play therapy program, our community outreach initiatives and our police response advocates," she said. "All of these services, these are not a luxury -- these are a necessity for the sake of families and for the quality of life in Leavenworth County."

Lee Doehring, Leavenworth's chief of police, said the alliance provided a critical service in the county.

He was especially complimentary of the police response advocates, who come to the scene of domestic violence incidents and offer emotional and practical assistance to victims. The advocates, he said, help victims clearly see alternatives to either repair or terminate their soured relationship.

"It's critical at the time that this domestic violence is going on that this intervention take place," Doehring said.

The importance of the advocates' work can't be discounted, Leavenworth's police chief said.

"I can say unequivocally that, through the intervention of these people and helping victims find other alternatives and resources available to them, we have prevented aggravated batteries, rapes and homicides," he said.

Andersen said that without an outpouring of support from the public or some other immediate financial boost, loss of the grant would mean the layoff of eight of the alliance's 15 staffers and a cut in each of its programs.

Andersen urged action from the community on behalf of the alliance.

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