On Tuesday, I attended a day-long gathering of domestic violence providers who are funded by the Department of Children and Families. We gather together quarterly to receive updates on the work of DCF in the area of domestic violence and to have a discussion or a speaker address a particular issue that is affecting our work and the people we serve.
At this most recent meeting, we were informed that the budget cut to DCF domestic violence funding -- which we expected to be 2.4%, the announced across-the-board cut to all programs – was reduced to 1.91%. This is great news to all of us, and the room erupted in cheers. It was powerful to hear DCF staff people say that they worked hard crunching numbers and whittling the number down so that it would have the least impact as possible. And they explained they did all of this because they understand how important and necessary our efforts are upon the lives of children and adults who need domestic violence services and support. What a blessing to hear our state funders acknowledge the importance of what we do!
Not only that, DCF is now compiling the statistics that each program submits every month so that they can report at to us at the quarterly meetings the number of people our programs are serving across the state. For example, there have been more than 2,000 intakes completed across the state this year in domestic violence shelters, child witness to violence programs, community-based programs and visitation centers. And the Massachusetts statewide hotline (Safelink 877-785-2020) took more than 17,000 calls; of those, more than 5,000 referrals were made other than shelter. When we get to see numbers like this, we realize the impact our joint effort is making. Our politicians and state administrators cannot deny the impact of the services we provide when we have these numbers to show.
On December 2, Renewal House is sponsoring a gathering of people engaged in faith-based work on domestic violence. We have eight people representing six agencies who have already signed on to participate. When I sent out the general invite to the Jane Doe Inc website, I received three calls of interest. Just yesterday, I received a phone call from an individual who has been engaged in domestic violence work for more than 20 years. She said, “I was just thinking that this time in our world is ‘ripe’ for spiritual fruition in the area of domestic violence. I am so glad you are doing this.” We have touched a nerve – and opened a door – and we are looking forward to seeing what will come of this next venture.