Utah shelters face significant funding loss

Posted at 11:40 AM, Feb 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-14 20:17:09-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Programs that help provide shelter for victims of domestic violence may lose funding this year.

The Utah Division of Child and Family Services deals with a vulnerable population including children and families. They are asking lawmakers to put their needs at the top of their priority list.

In order to keep 12 shelters open, the agency is asking lawmakers for nearly $500,000. The money will allow them to help abused women and children and to assist struggling families.

Shelters from Logan to St. George serve about 480 adults and children every night.

Rachel Bustamante, a domestic violence victim who has become an advocate, shared her story with lawmakers Thursday.

"I went into a shelter. I still had no idea really I was abused, it just seemed normal to me," said Bustamante. "So when I went in there, they gave me a power and control wheel, which showed all the things that an abuser does and he had almost all of them." It was then that she decided to leave for the health of her children.

Advocates say shelters and its workers, who are paid little or are volunteers, serve a critical need in the community.

"The position has gotten around politics as opposed to understanding that these are families, these are children serving within our communities and I'm afraid those services won't be there," said Peg Coleman, Utah Domestic Violence Council.

Last year, shelters turned down more than 2,500 requests for services.

Obtaining the funding will be a battle, as Gov. Herbert has budgeted for about half of what DCFS is requesting.