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Local domestic violence center loses state funds

Posted: July 29, 2009 10:19 p.m.
Updated: July 30, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's line-item veto decimated the $20.4 million budget for the state Domestic Violence Program, which provides about 45 percent - roughly $207,222 - of the local center's annual funding.

"As of July 1 we get no money," said Nicole Shellcroft, executive director of the Domestic Violence Center of Santa Clarita Valley. "We'll have to make drastic cuts," she said Wednesday.

Likely to be on the chopping block is the outreach center, she said. Shellcroft said an emergency board meeting was planned for today to discuss strategic planning.

If no changes were made to the center's spending, she said, it would likely have to shut down by the end of the year.

Intense scaling back may buy about two years, she said.

The center has a staff of seven full-time employees and two part-time workers. It served more than 1,000 people in 2008, Shellcroft said.

The center offers a 24-hour hotline, women's support groups, crisis intervention, individual counseling, children's therapy, legal service referrals, a court-approved batterer's program and community education.

The center also maintains a house as a shelter for domestic violence victims - a resource Shellcroft does not want to lose.

"Every time I take a shelter call, I want to cry," she said. "I'm thinking, ‘Where am I going to send them (if the shelter's gone)?'"

The state's Domestic Violence Program functions under the heading of the Department of Public Health, funding 94 shelters and centers throughout California.

In addition to cuts, Shellcroft said fundraising will be key to the center's survival.

"We're hoping we have some angels in the community," she said.

Even if the local domestic violence center can survive, the statewide network remains in peril, said Gail Ortiz, vice president of the local center's board.

"We're only as strong as the other centers," she said, and added the SCV center works in concert with others, frequently providing shelter for victims from other areas.

"I don't know what's going to happen," she said.


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