The Family Peace Initiative has a tough task ahead of itself.

The Family Peace Initiative has a tough task ahead of itself.

The program, which provides domestic battery intervention programs throughout four counties, has typically received its funding from Southeast Kansas Independent Living (SKIL)’s flex funds. However, those funds are no longer available, meaning the FPI will have to find other sources of funding for its services.

The good news is that a bill passed two years ago will require court-ordered batterer assessments and recommended treatment programs that will be funded by fees the batterers must pay. The bad news is that funding source won’t fully kick in for another year, leaving FPI searching for funds to fill the gap until those funds arrive.

On Friday, Katy Parker, FPI program director, went before the Crawford County Commission to seek their help in keeping the program alive (and certified) until those revenues kick in.

“We do lots and lots of assessments. The [offenders] pay for this. It’s not something anyone else pays for,” Parker said. “We did the numbers, and in the history of the program, we’ve had 1,000 referrals. About 590 of those were from this county. We cover anyone who comes to us, but from what we see, it’s usually Crawford, Cherokee, Labette and Bourbon counties. Basically, we’re running at a $50,000 deficit because we’ve not been receiving the referrals we’d been getting.”

Parker requested that the county commissioners in those four counties unite to help fund the program until the court-ordered referrals can cover its own costs. The law will require batterers to pay for six months of group sessions.

Without funding, the FPI would be forced to close for a time, meaning the nearest programs would be in Independence or Garnet.

“It’s a real backwards situation, because other communities are getting funding [from the state], then putting in the program. Here, we have the program, but it doesn’t have the funding,” Parker said.

Parker said the program can keep running until Dec. 31, but without a commitment of funds, it could be impossible to keep going after that.

Commissioners said they were frustrated by the state for “another unfunded mandate.”

“The state keeps cutting. We need these programs, I don’t disagree. But at some place, we’re going to have to tell the state we need support. Where is this going to stop?” asked commissioner Carl Wood. “We need to send a message to the state and the federal government that they can’t put all this burden on the people of Crawford, Labette, Cherokee counties. You’re going to help us now, or you’re going to pay for it later at [prisons at] Osawatomie and Larned.”

Commissioners said they would talk with the county attorney, county sheriff, and others about Crawford County’s part in the program, and would also help coordinate a meeting with the other counties to see what could be done.

Parker said she had already received some interest from Labette County and would seek out the other counties in the future.

“You’re preaching to the choir. We’re doing the same to you, too,” said commissioner Linda Grilz. “The reality is the state filters this back to the locals. We don’t have any cushion, any luxuries. When we’re doing something like this, we have to make it happen cooperatively. We’ll try that. But if we chose not to do that, what happens to the people? What would happen? Ultimately, everyone pays, because we’d be putting bad people back on the street.”

Commissioner Bob Kmiec asked about private funds and grants from organizations, such as faith-based organizations. But at this time, Parker said few opportunities had been found.

Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 140.