Domestic violence shelters raise concerns over funding

By: Mike Vasilinda | Capitol News Service
February 14, 2020

Under state law, the Department of Children and Families is required to send all state money, $45 million a year, through the coalition.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) — Florida’s 42 locally operated domestic violence shelters remain concerned about continued funding after the governor ordered an investigation into the statewide nonprofit that transfers money from the state to the local level.

It made for a bittersweet Valentines Day at the Refuge House, which provides services to victims of domestic violence from eight North Florida counties.

“The concerns of many of the program directors across the state are acute,” said Director, Meg Baldwin.

In 2004, lawmakers said funding for local shelters would be distributed by an unnamed nonprofit.

In 2012 they specifically named the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence as that agency.

FCADV was the sole conduit of $46 million in state funds to local shelters.

“The well-being of survivors of domestic violence depends on there being the strictest integrity at every level,” said Baldwin.

The Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence paid its former CEO $761,000 a year.

She may also have gotten as much as $7 million over three years in other compensation.

Until this week, the nonprofit refused to turn over financial documents to the state.

State Representative Scott Plakon is the House sponsor of legislation that will take FCADV out of the status as the sole conduit for funding.

“This whole organization is a cascading train wreck of apparent corruption and abuse of taxpayer dollars,” said Plakon.

All 42 shelter directors will be meeting by phone on Saturday.

They want to make sure those on the front line aren’t painted by the alleged sins of the statewide administrator.

The House Public Integrity committee has already voted to subpoena FCADV board members and staff.

The Full House will vote to issue the subpoenas next week.

Copyright 2020 Capitol News Service. All rights reserved.