Services trimmed aheadĀ of cuts

Faith House services offered to battered women and children in Acadia, St. Landry and Avoyelles parishes will be scaled back as the Lafayette-based nonprofit group tries to offset a midyear cut in state funding, Faith House director Billi LaCombe said Monday.

The nonprofit organization provides counseling, support and legal assistance to battered women and their children and also operates a crisis shelter in Lafayette.

In mid-December, the state announced nearly $1 million in cuts to the state Department of Children and Family Services’ Family Violence Prevention and Intervention Program. The cut translated to a loss of $124,000 in funding for Faith House, LaCombe said.

The agency typically receives about $770,000 annually from the state to fill out its total “cash” budget of $1.5 million, LaCombe said. It will now received about $646,000 from the state. The nonprofit receives more than $600,000 annually in in-kind donations, she added.

As of Thursday, Faith House will no longer have two staff members on site at its Marksville office and office hours in Acadia and St. Landry parishes will be reduced by 10 hours per week, she said.

The shelter’s budgets for food, utilities, travel and supplies were also cut.

“The state was going to fund a new van for our agency, but we had to cut that out of our budget as well as a playground renovation,” she said.

In July, the state asked Faith House to expand its services to Rapides and Avoyelles parishes to fill a need in central Louisiana. LaCombe said a staff member in its Alexandria office will now provide services in Marksville on a “very limited basis” to help with protective orders and “in emergency situations.”

“It will be on a limited basis because she has a full caseload in Rapides,” LaComb said.

The cuts were to take effect Jan. 1, however, the Faith House board approved the continuation of services through the end of the month, LaCombe said.

She said her agency will seek grant funding options to reopen the Marksville office and restore other services.

“We know that there’s definitely a need there and we will continue to seek funding sources for the services,” LaComb said. “Right now, we’re serving about 30 adults and 10 to 15 children per month in the Avoyelles Parish area.”

The Lafayette shelter also has provided emergency housing for women and children in Avoyelles and Rapides parishes because there is no crisis shelter for women and children in the central Louisiana area, she said.

The crisis shelter in Lafayette remains at capacity, which is 45 beds, LaComb said.

In recent years, the agency expanded its services to include transitional and permanent housing assistance to its clients with the help of private donors and grants.

The agency’s mission won’t be deterred by the funding cut, LaCombe said.

“We’re still providing services to people and we’ll continue to do so,” she said. “We’ll continue to meet the needs in the community.”