Options funding cut for non-compliance

Published 2:04 pm Tuesday, November 27, 2007

By Staff
Executive director says agency has addressed issues
Staff Writer
Funding for a Beaufort County domestic violence agency has been suspended since October based on the findings of a probe into the agency’s failure to comply with state a federal grant guidelines.
An Oct. 24 letter to Options to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault from Mel Chilton, executive director of the N.C. Council for Women/Domestic Violence Commission, lays out six points of noncompliance within the agency based on the “investigation” begun in August. Options received $495,791 last year.
The Daily News obtained a copy of that letter Monday. In it, Chilton writes that grant money will not be paid to Options until it is found to be fully compliant.
Those requirements were staff training, a conflict of interest issue regarding a staff member, administrative staff and board attendance at State Auditor’s Board of Director’s Training, failure to follow State Abuser Treatment Certification Program guidelines, spending of state funding and the repayment of an overcharge to grants in fiscal year 2006-2007.
The Council for Women, Options’ source for state grant funding, has suspended funding until Options meets those requirements.
The Council for Women’s “primary concern is the unacceptable quality of services to the victims as (a) result of the lack of trained staff.”
The letter, addressed to Lee anne Hanson-Niver, Options’ executive director, and Options Assistant Director Anne Hastings, was based on an investigation of Options “initiated after several complaints were received by our office during the months of August and September 2007,” which had been completed, Chilton wrote.
The investigation was performed by Diane Castellow, the council’s Central Region Director. Castellow also made the six recommendations for compliance.
Hanson-Niver said Monday that her agency has since addressed all six issues and is now in compliance with state and federal funding guidelines.
When Options becomes compliant, Lucas said a team will be sent to review the agency to verify that all requirements have been met. It has not yet been verified by the council that Options has met all requirements outlined in the letter and funding has not been reinstated, she said.
Hanson-Niver echoed Chilton’s concern for the welfare of the women in her shelter and her staff, saying Monday that the probe was “probably the most horrific thing anyone could do to my staff and the women here.”