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More funding needed to revive domestic violence program

Published On: Mar 13 2013 06:44:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 13 2013 09:17:29 PM CDT

There is a renewed effort to revive a program to help curb domestic violence.

The program, Law Enforcement Advocate Partnership, is a partnership with police and Domestic Abuse Intervention Services.

Stimulus funding got the program started in Madison, but now more funding is needed to restart the program.

"Victims tend to have better outcomes when they're connected to a program like DAIS," said Shannon Barry, executive director of DAIS.

Barry and her team from DAIS fight for victims to get the help they need, and they think they've found an effective tool.

In a pilot program that ended last year, DAIS worked with law enforcement in Madison's south district to directly reach out to victims after a domestic incident instead of waiting for the victim to make the call.

"It was based on a model that's out of Milwaukee County," Barry said. "What we were finding was that victims weren't calling us because often times law enforcement officers were giving that phone number to them in the midst of this very traumatic response."

The LEAP pilot was successful, but the funding ran out.

"Over 40 percent of the victims that DAIS contacted, they were actually able to provide them with some level of services. Sometimes that went all the way up to emergency shelter," said Joe Balles of the Madison Police Department.

A city resolution supports the LEAP initiative and directs the Madison mayor's office to try to find $90,000 in funding so the program can start again and expand.

Barry said it's possible the program has already saved lives.

"Less than 4 percent of domestic violence homicide victims had been connected to an advocacy program. We know that we're doing homicide prevention services, and if we can connect those folks to us through whatever means necessary, than we're more likely to improve their safety," Barry said.

The program would be funded for 18 months with $90,000. A new DAIS facility would be built and operational in about 18 months and the organization would have room for two staffers to work on the program with Madison police as long as the funding is still there.

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