Federal grant to help fund domestic violence program for fiscal year Most of $28,030 to be used for crisis counselor's pay

July 17, 1998|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

A $28,030 federal grant will help keep Family and Children's Services of Central Maryland operating in Carroll County this fiscal year.

The money is provided through the S*T*O*P Violence Against Women Grant Program and administered by Carroll County government.

Most of the funds will be used to pay the salary and benefits for Nicole White, a crisis counselor who works closely with the Westminster Police Department to aid victims of domestic violence.

The grant was announced by Westminster Common Councilman Damian L. Halstad, who sits on the council's public safety committee. It became effective July 1.

"The domestic violence prevention program is a program near and dear to my heart," said Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan. "Far more people are terrorized by domestic violence than by any other crime."

The Westminster Police Department receives about 50 calls per month for domestic disputes, said Capt. Roger Joneckis, a 24-year veteran of the agency. Last month, officers responded to 12 reports of domestic assault.

"Victims of domestic violence need to know they're not alone, so they'll have confidence to get out of these situations and seek help," Yowan said.

White has been a crisis counselor in Westminster since September. She was hired shortly after Carroll County State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes created a domestic violence unit, teaming a case coordinator and investigator with a prosecutor who specializes in handling domestic violence offenders.

"Each day, Nicole comes over and goes through the domestic violence cases we've had. She's teamed with a police officer, and together they interview the victim," Joneckis said. The visits are made within 48 hours of a police report.

White offers the victim counseling services and shelter, if needed. She also helps the abused spouse file criminal charges and obtain a protective order. Sometimes, she accompanies the victim to court.

"During the follow-up visits, the police are often able to update the investigation. So, in addition to helping the victim, the visits are also very helpful to the state's attorney's office," said Latisha Mayne, case coordinator for the domestic violence unit.

White assists about 40 people each month. The majority are contacted by White after filing a complaint with police. Some call or walk into her office at 22 N. Court St.

"The program is important because it reaches clients we wouldn't necessarily reach, victims who walk through the front door," White said.

White hopes the grant will be renewed next year, and that the county will assume the cost after that. The program was to run three years, but funding is not guaranteed.

Domestic violence hot line: 410-857-0077.

Pub Date: 7/17/98

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