The Women’s Legislative Caucus undertook an extraordinary endeavor during interim. The statewide listening tour enabled those who travelled, to become deeply familiar with strengths and shortcomings of our community’s systems — in each circuit — that are called upon to respond to the complex problem of relationship and family violence.

System practices and protocols that could be modified with agency (or branch) leadership were implemented. Other ideas were born that resulted in legislative proposals.

The one key need expressed repeatedly was for more advocates and attorneys to help families and victims navigate their way through the system on their way to safety and sufficiency.

The 2018 Women’s March rally Jan. 20 at the state Capitol. The author is concerned that the state Legislature is not sufficiently funding programs that advocate for domestic violence victims. Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

No bills or budget adjustments have been included in the comprehensive effort to improve Hawaii’s “no-tolerance for abuse” approach to a healthy community.

You have most likely read some of the foundational material about the learning difficulties, eating disorders, risk for substance abuse, repetition of the generational cycle, predilection to interpersonal problems and long-term adverse health outcomes that are consequences of victimization and trauma.

Lives are at stake. And yet there are no measures and no dialogue about expanding program services to meet the unwavering demand.

A Growing Problem

We are always asked if the problem is getting bigger. Requests for help are steady; a consequence of our success in educating the community is the number of people naming their problem, seeking help, and considering their options. It continues to grow.

Domestic Violence Action Center lost about $600,000 during the 2009 budget recession. Almost none of that has been restored. Costs for doing business steadily climb- health insurance, pencils, Xerox paper, utilities. We have a pretty creative scheme for piecing together funding from sources (foundations, events, client fees, grants) but it is not enough. Nor is it stable.

Lives are at stake. And yet there are no measures and no dialogue about expanding program services to meet the unwavering demand.

What is the chance DVAC and other essential programs can work cooperatively with elected leaders to invest more money to meet the costly, potentially fatal, complex and life altering needs of our island families?

Budget bills have not been introduced. Years ago, budget proviso got added when funds were needed. DVAC submitted a grant in aid request this year, as in years past. We were told not to expect it, since we received one last year.

Any chance to increase support for community based programs as we move into the budget phase of legislative maneuvering?

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