Domestic violence shelters worried about funding amid state intervention

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(WCJB) - A state investigation into potentially mismanaged funds by the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence is creating a change in how local shelters are funded. That has some shelter leaders concerned about a gap in finances.

To avoid service interruption, Peaceful Paths director and coalition board member Theresa Beachy is requesting up to $700,000 from Gainesville and Alachua county. In an email, beachy says these funds are to prevent lay-offs and pay vital operation costs.

Judy Wilson of the Ocala domestic violence assault center says she's shocked.

"It’s a surprise to a lot of us, even the ones that have been around for a long time cause we expect FCADV to do the good job."

On Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis will sign to move funding from the FCADV to the Department of Children and Families.

Fourth district Florida Senator Aaron Bean said, "I believe that the department of children and families has the resources to do it themselves in the interim before they can get a certain type of entity that could oversee and to make sure that every dollar, now more than ever, every dollar is transparent and every dollar is delivered to its intended target."

Shelters are reimbursed the funds they spend on a monthly basis.

Wilson says a transition will take some time. "I talked this morning with some people in Tallahassee that I've known for a long time who are trying to reassure us that there will not be a gap because most shelters they just can't afford, $200,000, you know. Or $20,000 even a month out. We're out $250,000 right now."

Beachy was served with a subpoena in relation to the state's investigation into the FCADV's possible mismanagement of funds. As a board member of the coalition, Beachy signed off on former CEO Tiffany Carr's annual salary of $761,000 as well as millions of dollars in paid time off.

Wilson added, "I'm horrified, I would never imagine that that would happen and in my 45 years of working with different funders and different state departments and things like that, nothing like that has ever happened."

A letter was submitted by 26 shelter leaders across the state calling for the board to resign. Shelter directors from Lake City, Palatka, and Live Oak were among them. Wilson is not on the letter but says she completely agrees with the demand for their resignation.