Government shutdown could impact local domestic violence support, shelter

As the partial federal government shutdown enters its 12th day, officials with Serenity, Mountain Home's domestic violence support and shelter serving Baxter and Marion counties, are closely watching developments.

Across the state, representatives with non-profit organizations helping crime victims are voicing concern the shutdown could impact their funding.

But locally, Serenity board president Jennifer Porter says while she and others are closely monitoring the situation, the local shelter has not been impacted yet.

Little Rock television station KATV reports one of the prominent funding sources known as the Violence Against Women Act expired due to the shutdown. Other programs such as the Victims of Crime Act are also at risk.

Since 2015, the Department of Justice has awarded more than $13 million to Arkansas organizations under the VAWA and VOCA.

Porter says Serenity receives VOCA funding.

In most cases, shelters pay their expenses up front and are reimbursed through the state, after funding is received from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Scott Hardin, with the Arkansas Department of Finance Administration, stresses time is of the essence as it pertains to the shutdown and providing for the organizations across the Natural State.

Hardin says as of Friday, if there is not a resolution, then there won't be those federal employees in place to process the payments, specifically for the Violence Against Women Act.

Without the federal employees, access to the funds is limited, since they are required to give the final sign-off on invoices.

Hardin says if we're in the same position in late January, then there really will be some serious issues.

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