Funding for battered women’s shelters and services

Battered women’s shelters and services receive funding through the collection of fines. Courts are required to collect fines under the criminal code and to forward 70 percent of each mandatory minimum fine collected to a local victim assistance program that provides services locally in the county in which the crime was committed. A “victim assistance program” means victim witness programs within county attorney offices or crime victim crisis centers, victim-witness programs, battered women’s shelters and nonshelter programs, and sexual assault programs. Minn. Stat. § 609.101.

Battered women’s shelters and services also receive funding through the Department of Corrections.7 The Commissioner of Corrections is required to award grants to programs that provide emergency shelter services to battered women and support services to battered women, domestic abuse victims, and their children. The commissioner also is to award grants for training, technical assistance, and for the development and implementation of educational programs to increase public awareness of the causes of battering, the solutions to preventing and ending domestic violence, and the problems faced by battered women and domestic abuse victims. The grants are to be awarded in a manner that ensures that they are equitably distributed to programs serving metropolitan and nonmetropolitan populations.

Any public or private nonprofit agency may apply for a grant. The application must comply with the statutory guidelines. Every public or private nonprofit agency that receives a grant to provide services must comply with all rules established by the commissioner related to the administration of pilot programs. Minn. Stat. § 611A.32.

Funding for parenting-time centers

The Commissioner of Education8 is authorized to award grants of up to $50,000 for the purpose of creating or maintaining parenting-time centers. These centers are designed to reduce children’s vulnerability to violence and trauma related to parenting time when there is a history of domestic violence or abuse within the family. Grants are to be provided to the greatest possible number of centers and to provide the broadest possible geographic distribution of centers throughout the state. Proposed centers must meet standards developed by the commissioner to ensure the safety of the custodial parent and children.

These centers serve as a healthy interactive environment for parents who are separated or divorced and for parents with children in foster care to visit with their children. The centers also are used as a neutral place where parents who are ordered to have no contact with one another can exchange children for visitation. Centers also may provide parenting and child development classes and offer support groups to participating custodial parents. The centers may hold regular classes designed to assist children who have experienced domestic violence and abuse.

Centers are required to have on staff, on their board, or otherwise available to them for consultation, an individual knowledgeable about or experienced in the provision of services to battered women and domestic abuse victims. Minn. Stat. § 119A.37.

This and any related posts have been adopted from the Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department’s Information Brief, Domestic Abuse Laws in Minnesota – An Overview, written by legislative analyst Judith Zollar.

This post is also part of a series of posts on Domestic Abuse in Minnesota.

7 In 1998, Governor Carlson issued a reorganization order that transferred the crime victim services functions of the Department of Corrections, Department of Administration, and the Department of Public Safety to the Crime Victim Ombudsman and, ultimately, to a new office known as the Center for Crime Victim Services. In 2003, Governor Pawlenty consolidated crime victim services further by creating the Crime Victim Services Unit in the Office of Justice Programs. The explanation continues to refer to the Department of Corrections because the statute has not been updated.

8 In 2003, as part of Governor Pawlenty’s Reorganization Order No. 187, the responsibility for overseeing the parenting-time centers was transferred from the Department of Children, Families and Learning (now renamed the Department of Education) to the Department of Public Safety. The explanation of the program refers to the Department of Education because the statute has not been updated.