After an emotional debate, the City Council this week voted to give Turning Point Family Services $34,000 to pay for a child abuse counselor for the remainder of the fiscal year.
The vote was 3 to 2 to allocate that amount for the Garden Grove-based counseling group, which serves nine western and central Orange County cities. Councilmen J. Tilman Williams and Robert F. Dinsen voted no, instead supporting a city contribution of $16,000 as recommended by city staff.
Councilman Francis Kessler, a former police chief, noted that the difference would pay for child abuse counseling.
"It's abolishing the program," Kessler said of the $16,000. "There's no way the police will be able to deal with the child abuse that has occurred in Garden Grove, and is occurring in Garden Grove and will occur in Garden Grove."
In many child abuse cases, police take a victim into protective custody. Turning Point, with its subsidiary program Amparo, a shelter for children and teen-agers, takes some of that responsibility.
But some council members, including Mayor W.E. (Walt) Donovan, said they were unhappy with Turning Point's reports of expenses and services.
"I've yet to get a full accounting," complained Donovan to Turning Point board President Dennis Catron.
Williams suggested that volunteers could do the job.
"There are plenty of talented people over there at the (H. Louis Lake) Senior Citizens Center who could help out," he said.
Kessler replied: "I've worked child abuse cases, and there's no way that you can handle child abuse with volunteers."
Catron had come before the council seeking third- and fourth-quarter funding for Turning Point, which started as a city program but now receives money and serves clients from the western and central area of Orange County.
Garden Grove contributes the largest single share of Turning Point's budget, and also sends more clients to Turning Point. The motion to approve the funding also included a requirement that Turning Point make a more full accounting of its activities and costs to the city.