Local domestic violence program could be impacted by budget cuts

By By John Guidroz / American Press

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year calls for $2.4 million in cuts to domestic violence programs

statewide, an impact the head of one local agency said may lead to $100,000 in cuts.

“I may have to lay off four or five people,” said Kathy Williams, executive director for Oasis, formerly the Calcasieu Women’s

Shelter. “It’s serious. It’s the worst I’ve seen.”

Williams said Oasis already suffered $62,639 from Jindal’s midyear cuts late last year. The agency — which provides domestic

violence outreach services for Calcasieu, Cameron and Allen parishes — will join other shelters at the Capitol steps at 9

a.m. Tuesday to protest the cuts.

Williams said the funding is needed because Calcasieu had 11 domestic violence-related homicides in 2011, the most in the

state. The closest was Caddo Parish with six deaths.

“We’re not sitting back and hoping everyone does the talking for us,” she said.

Oasis can house up to 33 people at a time, Williams said. Currently, 12 women and 13 children are staying at the shelter.

Williams said food is provided for people who stay at the shelter, but the cuts may force some women to use food stamps, a

practice already being done in some shelters around the state.

“I don’t agree with that because (women) should use food stamps once they move into a new place,” she said. “But we may have

to rethink that.”

Williams said the shelter may also have to stop providing rental and security deposit assistance for women moving into a home

or apartment, along with paying a week’s worth of day care once they start a new job.

“Those things may have to end, which will dramatically hurt that survivor,” she said.

Williams said an outreach worker meets with five groups each week in Allen Parish. If the cuts take effect, she said those

meetings may be reduced to once or twice a month.

She said smaller shelters — like the Jeff Davis Communities Against Domestic Abuse in Jennings and the June Jenkins Women’s

Shelter in DeRidder — will feel the effects of cuts more than the larger shelters.

According to the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, seven of the 18 state-funded programs will have to close all

or part of their programs if the cuts go through as they are now set up.

Online: www.lcadv.org.