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      Domestic violence help remains in Iowa, despite consolidation

      For years, domestic violence victims in Southeast Iowa have relied on services provided by agencies like the Tri-State Coalition, in Keokuk. But a new plan to consolidate domestic abuse and rape agencies across the state means that many of these offices will close.

      "Not only is this happening in Iowa, it's happening in other parts of the country. There's just not the resources," Sue Prochazka, the director of Tri-State Coalition said.

      "Significant cuts have been happening since about 2000. And between 2000 and 2013, domestic violence services in Iowa City have taken a 29 percent loss in support services, whether that be programs closing, programs merging or loss of funding. That's significant in any field," Kristie Fortmann-Doser, the executive director of the Domestic Violence Intervention Program in Iowa City said.

      The consolidation of multi-county agencies will also mean a loss of jobs, including Prochazka's.

      "But that doesn't mean that we're not addressing emergency housing and shelter needs," Sue Prochazka said. "That's one of the most important things we want people to understand is that services will be available locally."

      Same services, but by a different provider. Now, domestic violence agencies will work out of Iowa City, covering a total of nine counties and close to 2,500 victims. In this region, shelters will remain in place in Burlington, Iowa City and Davenport.

      "We're really trying to examine what are all the potential options for that individual, trying to meet people exactly where they're at," Doser said.

      "Staff will be hired and living in the local area to provide those services so that people don't have to travel 90 miles away to provide those services," Prochazka said.

      "Advocates are much more mobile and much more accessible. That also has consequences that go with it obviously, but we're working very, very hard to create as many opportunities as we can so survivors can get their needs met," Doser said.

      Historically, more funding has gone toward domestic violence services rather than sexual assault victims. This consolidation will actually balance out the funding, giving more to sexual assault.

      "We're doing much more through our outreach services, counseling, advocacy, helping people maneuver through community resources, getting them the help they need," Prochazka said.

      The Tri-State Coalition will continue services until June of next year, at which point, services from Iowa City will take over.