Resources for domestic violence discussed at Assembly hearing

TRENTON – Maintaining services for New Jersey women who are victims of domestic violence was a focus of Wednesday’s hearing on the restructuring of the state’s social service agencies.

Several lawmakers questioned the commissioners on whether the transfer of the Division of Women from the Department of Community Affairs to the Department of Children and Families would result in decreased in funding for domestic violence programs and resources.

The Assembly Budget Committee met to discuss Gov. Chris Christie’s restructuring plan of social services.

“My only concern when we’re shifting things is that we don’t drop (programs),” said Assemblyman Albert Coutinho, (D-29), Newark.

“Can you assure us that the domestic violence programs we currently have will (continue),” Coutinho asked Commissioner Allison Blake of the Department of Children and Families.

“There is absolutely no decrease in domestic violence services,” Blake responded, adding that maintaining all levels of service for women who are victims of domestic violence “is a very high priority.”

Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, (D-15) Ewing, issued a statement following the hearing critical of the governor’s restructuring.

“It’s hard to discern what the true intention behind this transfer is,” Coleman said in the statement. “Is it merely structural or will there be a programmatic shift?”

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