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Domestic violence shelters ask state lawmakers for more funding

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – Leaders from Utah’s private, non-profit shelters are urging lawmakers to allocate more funding to help save women and children from domestic violence.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – Leaders from Utah’s private, non-profit shelters are urging lawmakers to allocate more funding to help save women and children from domestic violence.

The story is the same all over Utah - so many women and children to help and not enough beds to go around. At the South Valley Sanctuary there are 13 rooms and 57 beds, but that's rarely enough. Last year they had to turn away more than 650 individuals because they didn’t have enough room.

Jennifer Campbell Associate Director of the South Valley Sanctuary said, "We try to place them, but we don't have enough space for everyone that needs help."

The number of beds available to domestic violence victims in Utah has decreased in recent years because of inadequate funding.

Representatives from the state's 12 private, non profit shelters gathered on Capitol Hill to ask that future state budget's include $474,000 so the shelters can continue their work.

Anne Burkholder CEO of Salt Lake’s YWCA explained, “We're not asking for a new program, we're not asking for the state of Utah to step in and make up for federal budget funding or federal cutbacks, we're really asking the state of Utah to value what we already have."

The YWCA was the first domestic violence shelter to open in Utah in 1976 and since then has grown to include 150 beds and 48 transitional homes. It's not just women who use their services; a majority of their clients are children and most are under the age of 8

"A mother in our shelter said my young children are sleeping for the first time peacefully and feeling safe in two years,” said Burkholder.

It's that safety for children and their families that these shelters provide, but to continue to do the work, advocates say Utah lawmakers need to recognize there is a domestic violence problem in Utah and then address it with additional funding.

Campbell said, "I think a lot of people don't realize that domestic violence exists, that people need a place to go and so it doesn't become a priority item when they go through the budget."

The social services joint appropriations committee did not vote Thursday. A vote is expected some time next week.
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