But funding still woefully inadequate to meet victims’ needs
Washington, DC, 1/17/2014 - Last night Congress passed a 2014 funding bill, restoring significant cuts that had been imposed through sequestration last year. The measure commits increased resources to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) shelter funding.
"This is a welcome relief after the devastation caused by sequestration cuts," said Kim Gandy, President and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV). "Sequestration jeopardized access to safety for victims, and now local domestic violence programs will begin to rebuild some of their services in an effort to meet the need. But the funding crisis continues for most local programs."
The fiscal year 2014 bill releases additional vital funding from the VOCA fund, a non-taxpayer fund dedicated to direct services for victims of crime, including survivors of domestic and sexual violence. The bill also funds the Office on Victims of Crime Vision 21 initiative, which will support important improvements in technology, strategic planning, research and data in the victim services field. VAWA's cornerstone STOP state formula grant program, which supports effective and life-saving coordinated community responses to domestic and sexual violence, received a much needed increase this year. FVPSA, the federal government’s only dedicated funding stream for domestic violence shelters and programs, received a modest increase that will help more of the nation’s shelters meet the pressing needs of victims fleeing abuse. Additionally, the VAWA Sexual Assault Services Programs (SASP) state formula fund program was increased, which will allow rape crisis centers to serve more victims.
"NNEDV is grateful to our Congressional champions on the Appropriations Committees and those members of Congress who fought for this funding throughout the process," said Gandy. "While we celebrate these hard-won increases, we know that there is still inadequate funding to shelter and serve the desperate victims who come to our doors."
Unfortunately, the bill decreased funding for VAWA's critical Legal Assistance for Victims, Rural programs, and Transitional Housing programs. "Victims need increased funding for all of these programs. VAWA's programs work together to improve the systemic response to domestic and sexual violence, and every cut means a loss of critical services," said Gandy. "The programs that were reduced are some of the most highly sought and badly needed services. We urge Congress to find the money to fully fund all of these critical programs next year."
Victim services providers are enduring a prolonged crisis caused by funding cuts. There are simply not enough resources to meet the demands for victim services. NNEDV's "Domestic Violence Counts” report found that in one 24-hour period in 2012, nearly 65,000 victims received lifesaving services at domestic violence programs nationwide. Unfortunately, during that same 24-hour period more than 10,000 requests for services went unmet largely due to lack of funding.
"Plainly," said Gandy, "the ongoing funding crisis means that victims must be turned away when they are at their most vulnerable. While service providers work with each victim who comes to them to find safety, they cannot create shelter beds out of thin air, hire case managers on a promise, or build affordable housing with a magic wand. They need funding to provide help and refuge for victims."
"We look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to build on these investments and to fully fund programs in fiscal year 2015. The Violence Against Women Act was reauthorized less than a year ago – we owe it to victims to make good on the promise of VAWA by funding the programs that give life to the law," she concluded.