RICHMOND - Imagine finally finding the strength to leave an abusive spouse only to find out that the domestic violence program in your community has closed its doors or scaled back its services.
It could become a reality due to the government shutdown.
It's a situation that has programs like Safe Harbor scrambling to stretch federal funding for as long as they can.
"We are already in a funding crisis, local programs, struggling to provide those core services, what we consider core services," says Safe Harbor Spokesperson Stacie Vecchietti. "You want to be positive but you have to prepare so it's a balancing act for sure."
Safe Harbor gets 30 percent of its funding from the federal government. It hasn't had to streamline its services yet but will if the shutdown goes on much longer.
Safe harbor operates a 24-hour hotline, offers counseling, runs an emergency shelter and provides support in courtrooms and hospitals -- all services it considers to be essential.
"If we were able to do less of that work we might see the worst case scenarios play out in a more significant way," Vecchietti says.
Vecchietti says survivors who rely on WIC to feed their children are bracing for October 31, the day Virginia's program is set to run out of money.
"It does impact the lives of the individuals we serve, the kids and families we serve every day and I don't think we can talk about that enough aside from the politics of the situation."
Safe Harbor is also preparing to pick up where small, rural programs will likely be forced to leave off.
Those mostly funded by the government may have to close their doors in the not-so-distant future, leaving larger programs to provide services in these communities too.
Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond
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