What ever happened to saving women and children first? | Barbara Dacri’s testimony from 5/11/11

Following is the text of the 2 minute testimony from Barbara Dacri, Crossroads for Women‘s executive director, to the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs of the Maine Legislature. Barbara testified on 5/11/11 at the State House in Augusta, Maine in response to the governor’s new change package. The Maine Office of Substance Abuse did not allocate any restored money for residential treatment for women and children. Many supporters watched on as Barbara told the committee why they should make sure Crossroads for Women’s residential programs do not close.

May 11, 2011

Senator Rosen, Representative Flood and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs. My name is Barbara Dacri and I am the Executive Director of Crossroads for Women, a provider of residential substance abuse treatment for women and their children. I am here to ask the question, What ever happened to saving women and children first? In spite of the recent restoration of $5 million to the Office of Substance Abuse budget, Crossroads for Women continues to be one of three agencies on the chopping block for both of its residential programs.

For the past 36 years, Crossroads for Women has helped thousands of women recover. I don’t know how many times as executive director of this organization that I have heard people say “if it weren’t for Crossroads, I’d be dead”; “Crossroads saved my daughter’s life”. Yet, we’re looking to eliminate these two residential programs that have been a cornerstone in women’s treatment for so many years.

Crossroads has a long history of excellence. These are programs that work – unique services that don’t exist elsewhere in the state. There are no other beds for recovering women and their children in the state, making our programs a critical component of substance abuse treatment in Maine.

Why do you need women-specific beds? Because women recover differently than men. Most of the women who come to us have a history of trauma. They have been sexually abused, and they have co-occurring mental health issues. They need to be in a safe environment where they can work on their recovery with a staff that has specific expertise in women’s treatment, and where their children can get some stability and safety, often for the first time in their young lives.

We help women. And with this new change in the budget, we will not exist. We have 27 beds in our two residential programs. Where will these women go on July 1st? Residential treatment programs throughout Maine are already filled and have lengthy waiting lists. We don’t have enough beds in Maine as it is. This cut is devastating for women. Please help us. Please help the women who need us. This is not a cost-effective approach. These women will end up in the streets; they will end up in jails, in hospitals and emergency rooms. Their children will end up in foster care.

This can be prevented. I urge you to restore all of the money to the OSA budget and to please not target the women of Maine. They need your help.

Respectfully submitted,

Barbara Dacri
Executive Director, Crossroads for Women

Read more about the change package, how it affects Crossroads for Women and what you can do about it.