GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — The Western Slope Center for Children that helps children who have been physically or sexually abused is facing a funding crisis that could mean reduced services for one of the few child advocacy centers in the region.
It’s now coping with a $40,000 funding cut this year to its $545,000 budget because of cuts in donations from foundations and funding from the Mesa County Department of Human Services.
At the same time, there has been a significant increase in the number of child victims who were helped in 2015 compared to 2012. The number of children helped has increased from about 270 to 420.
Director Melissa Lytle said the economic downturn has had a significant effect.
“It’s been harder to find grant programs that support human services,” Lytle said. “I think Grand Junction hasn’t quite rebounded from the economic downturn, and there’s a lot more competition for special events and fundraisers.”
The Western Slope Center for Children coordinates treatment for children and families who report abuse, including therapists, doctors, police and prosecutors, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported (http://tinyurl.com/jl2gxkt ).
“Historically when kids made a disclosure, they would have to speak to all of those entities separately,” Lytle said. “We bring all those people to them, so they can come here and get all the services they need, whether that’s a forensic interview, mental health services or advocacy, we provide that all on-site,” Lytle said.
Lytle said the goal is to reduce the number of interviews and meetings needed for victims, and a lack of space often means people can only meet with one child or family at a time.
Lytle said the cutbacks are also hurting treatment and could endanger programs.
“It would be tragic for this community if for some reason we were to go away, which I don’t anticipate,” Lytle said.
Information from: The Daily Sentinel, http://www.gjsentinel.com