DAIS domestic violence center nearing completion thanks to $2 mi - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

DAIS domestic violence center nearing completion thanks to $2 million grant from Dane County

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Madison (WKOW)-- An alarming number of domestic violence victims are being turned away from Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS) shelter in Madison. Staff members say it's an issue they've been dealing with for years.

"The current facility that we have was purchased in 1983 and it was meant to be a ten year solution," DAIS Executive Director Shannon Barry says.

The center has helped domestic violence victims for more than 30 years. Due to the shelter's small size, staff members have been forced to turn away an increasing number of domestic violence victims. They say every night they have people on their waiting list that don't get in. In 2010, they had to turn people away 728 times. That number jumped to 13,420 in 2013. Staff members started putting multiple families in each of their rooms, but the waiting list still continues to grow. That's why staff members are excited about their new center that features twice as many rooms.

"It's going to be so good for the community. This center will send a clear message to victims and their families that they are not alone. They are supported and we care about them," Barry says.

The new center is currently being built on Fordem Avenue on Madison's East Side. One of the main features of this center is that it's secure enough that staff members can finally tell the community where they're located. The location of their current center is kept secret in order to protect the people they serve. Staff members say the new shelter will have increased security so they won't have to keep its location a secret anymore.

"This building really speaks out in a very strong way that this community believes that victims deserve safety. They deserve services and they deserve protection," Barry says.

The new center was only made possible because of a $2 million grant from Dane County. The money was first allotted in Dane County Executive Joe Parisi's 2014 Budget Proposal last year. Parisi says the county is moving forward with their plans to give DAIS the money, but the grant still has to be finalized by the county board on May 15th. He says this finalization is merely a formality.

"Our first goal is to get the facility built. Our second goal is to make the facility obsolete," Parisi says. "It's important that we don't see the building of a domestic violence shelter as our ultimate goal and ultimate success. We need to look deeper at domestic violence and figure out why it's happening."

DAIS staff members say the center will have seven times more square footage than their current facility. The shelter portion of the building will be four times bigger and will feature twice as many rooms. Their staff is also expected to double as they work to create new services and support programs to help families in need.

"This new facility will certainly expand all of our programming, not just our shelter services. We will have more legal advocacy, support groups, children's programming and other crisis intervention programming," Barry says.

The new DAIS center is expected to open on August 1st. Staff members are still working to raise $1 million dollars for the project. They started the "One Million Miles From Home" campaign to help bring in donations.

For information on how you can contribute to their cause, visit  http://abuseintervention.org/

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