WISH Situation is Dire
By Diane Gubatayao
June 29, 2016
By now it is well known that since September 2015, Women In Safe Homes (WISH) has been on probation with the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (CDVSA), the State agency responsible for funding and administrative oversight of 18 shelters throughout Alaska. The original probation document cited nine systemic issues involving staff, participants and community partners. I do not believe it is productive at this time to debate the merits of the probation. I trust that a State agency comprised of a Commissioner and assistant State Attorney General, among others, has done due diligence before imposing such a serious sanction. To their credit, many associated with WISH have made the effort to meet the requirements outlined by CDVSA. However, we have learned recently that the situation is dire with the exit of five Board members and some staff, and continued problems with WISH management and leadership highlighted by CDVSA.
For those who question the origin of the current situation at WISH, it is best to check the facts as established by CDVSA. Please refer to that attached documents for such information including the original probation, February CDVSA meeting motions and May actions. At its May meeting after conducting an executive session, the Council passed two key motions, the essence of which were to extend probation until October 2016, and to consider potential defunding of the WISH program.
This is deeply concerning. Not only is WISH a vital sanctuary for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Ketchikan, it is the only safe shelter in southern Southeast Alaska, serving the communities of Petersburg, Wrangell, Prince of Wales and Metlakatla. We must refocus our energy. This is not a time to cast blame, but rather a call for our community to rally together to do everything within our power to help WISH survive. For me, personally, and why I care so deeply, I never ever want to hear of another young mother found floating in the Narrows, just in case anyone wants to understand my motivation.
Received June 28, 2016 - Published June 29, 2016
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