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State agency recommends suspending Options funding

By Staff
Probe continues into grant compliance, agency stability
By Dan Parsons
Staff Writer
A statewide technical-assistance provider for domestic violence counseling agencies told state and federal funding agencies Wednesday that funding should be suspended for Options to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault in Beaufort County.
Rita Anita Linger, executive director of the N.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence wrote Wednesday to the Governor’s Crime Commission and the N.C. Department of Administration her agency’s position regarding a probe into Options based on complaints received by former employees.
The N.C. Council for Women/Domestic Violence Commission is the state funding agency for Options. The council and the Governor’s Crime Commission, Options’ funding source for federal dollars, led the probe based on “concerns” about the agency’s practices, according to Barry Bryant, deputy director of the Governor’s Crime Commission.
Linger wrote that the NCCADV has received “numerous reports from sources we consider reliable containing several indicators of activity at Options that have caused us to have grave concern about the level of service and the treatment of staff at the program.”
Those concerns, outlined in the letter, include low staff retention, supervisors acting in a manner that inspires “consistent fear of termination or other forms of retaliation” and a work environment “wrought with ongoing and extreme oppression, intimidation and harassment,” Linger wrote.
Linger then recommended the Governor’s Crime Commission and N.C. Council for Women ensure that “all grant funding administered by the state of North Carolina should be suspended until Options demonstrates corrective action.”
She also suggested “markers for change for Options to apply for reinstatement of grant funding,” including “consideration of a leadership change within the Options program (inclusive of board and Executive staff).”
For fiscal year 2005-2006, Options received $495,791 in federal and state funds. Lee anne Hanson, in a written response to questions regarding the probe from the Daily News, indicated Options expects to receive the same amount for the current fiscal year.
If funding were to be discontinued for the current fiscal year, the NCCADV would assist Options in providing services until the agency is again deemed to be in compliance with its grant applications.