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Government shutdown could impact local services that treat victims of sexual assault/rape

Non-profits brace for impact because of shutdown
Posted: 8:53 PM, Jan 09, 2019
Updated: 2019-01-10 10:50:08Z
Government shutdown.

TAMPA, Fla. — The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay has served people in need in Tampa Bay for more than 40 years. The partial government shutdown now has them counting down the days to what could turn into their closure or disruption in services.

President and CEO of Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, Clara Reynolds, told ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska everyone is worried.

“We can probably make this work for the next 60 days or so, but after that, it’s going to take a lot of creativity to figure out how we can provide these essential services in our community,” Reynolds said.

The non-profit receives $100,000 a month in federal funds to operate. Reynolds said they learned to diversify their income following previous shutdowns and the financial crisis of 2008.

Reynolds, who describes herself as an optimist, didn’t think the shutdown would drag on for this long.

“I don’t want to think about the worst-case scenario,” Reynolds said. “I am going to be very hopeful that between our local government and state government they are going to figure a way to quilt funding together so we will continue to operate.”

The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay offers several services in the community for people in need. That includes anyone who is the victim of a sexual assault, is having suicidal thoughts, involved in domestic violence, financial distress or emotional or situational problems. Anyone who needs help can call 211 where an operator is available every single day, 24 hours a day.

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"We would have wait lists for sexual assault exams,” Reynolds said. “We wouldn’t be able to provide that immediate 24 hours a day response. We wouldn’t be able to possibly accompany victims into court testifying on behalf of clients.”

The Crisis Center’s Sexual Assault Services is the certified rape crisis center for Hillsborough County.

Reynolds said they treat at least one person a day for sexual assault/rape.

“You’ll see law enforcement here all the time. They are bringing sexual assault victims that are coming here for that exam, an incredibly invasive exam, that has to be done within 120 hours. After that time we cannot gather that forensic evidence,” Reynolds said.

The breakdown in talks between Republicans and Democrats now has Reynolds beginning to think of a backup plan to make sure they keep their doors open, and there is no lapse in service.

“I think after Friday we are all going to have to come together and figure it out and again our local funders are really going to have to step up. This is just as bad as a hurricane,” Reynolds said.

If you would like to donate to the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay click here.