Budget Woes May Put Crisis Centers' Services On Hold
Posted April 17, 2003 11:43 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — Last year's budget resulted in $250,000 in cuts for Interact, which operates Wake County's only rape crisis hot line, but the picture looks even bleaker for this year's budget.
Each day, dozens of women talk to counselors at Interact's Rape Crisis Hotline, but if they call after 5 p.m. on weekdays, victims will not have someone readily available to pick up the phone. After hours, the calls are rolled over to nurses at WakeMed, who, in turn, page a rape counselor, which means victims will have to wait longer to get the help they need.
"Almost 69 percent of rape calls that come in are between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. and on the weekends and these are the times when we don't have the staffing," said Tykee Vallien of Interact.
Vallien said state budget cuts have resulted in fewer services, a lower level of care and overworked staff. Last year's budget cuts slashed programs by 21 percent at Interact. This year's budget will amount to another 20 percent in cuts.
"Our numbers are going up. More people are coming forward for the services, but we're the only program in this county that can serve this issue," Vallien said.
Domestic abuse counselors have seen 41 percent more victims since last year. The rape crises hot line has seen an increase in calls of up to almost 300 percent, but with less money in the state budget, Vallien said rape and domestic violence victims are being left by the wayside.
"It's very frustrating when there is someone who needs the help and we can't give it to them because we don't have the resources," he said.
Interact provides services ranging from support groups to on-site counseling and court advocacy. Vallien said in the coming year, Interact will have to rely heavily on individual contributions for support.