VOCA funding cuts impact survivor services

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VOCA funding cuts impact survivor services

Categories: Advocacy, Blog, Domestic Violence, Get Involved, Housing, News, Sexual Assault, Share, Shelter Services

Since the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic, domestic violence service providers have seen a significant increase in demand for services across the country – and YWCAs have been no exception.

YWCA USA is the single largest network of domestic violence and sexual assault shelter and services in the nation. Between March and June 2020, 57 YWCAs in 36 states reported an increased demand for domestic violence housing services.

But, the rise in services have failed to keep pace with finances, YWCA officials point out. Federal grants to victim services through the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) decreased nationally by 25 percent last year, and further cuts are expected. These decreases aren’t new, however.

During the past three years, annual VOCA funds have begun to decline due to shrinking deposits and subsequent declines in the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) balance. As a result, programs – like those at YWCA – have begun experiencing painful cuts in victim services funding. Without any further Congressional action, Victims Assistance Grants will continue to see cuts of up to 81 percent when compared to three years ago.

“In 2020, almost every victim service provider in Ohio experienced a 37 percent cut in their VOCA award,” explained Nadia Oehler, grants and program compliance manager. “Federally, VOCA has some very specific funding streams that fluctuate and limit the amount available to VOCA recipients. There is work happening in the House and Senate to do a ‘VOCA fix.’ If passed, this fix will ensure new streams of funding for VOCA and organizations could begin to see an increase or stabilization in funds by 2023.”

Our community can help, said Donna Long, director of advocacy and outreach, by contacting their senator and asking them to pass the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Act (S. 611/H.R. 1652). YWCA USA has an easy online form to do just that.

“VOCA is the largest source of federal funding for domestic and sexual violence services in the country,” Long said. “YWCA Dayton currently receives about $500,000 from this fund alone. Countless families depend on VOCA to receive or provide life-changing services and support. The VOCA fix has broad bipartisan, bicameral support, but we need every voice to get it done. Especially during these uncertain times, Congress must appropriate support for victims and include the necessary fixes to ensure long-term stability for survivors.”

YWCA Dayton – which receives more VOCA funding than any other YW in Ohio – experienced a 34 percent decrease in VOCA funds for the 2021-22 year and a 37 percent decrease the year prior. These dollars are used to support critical frontline staff working with survivors across YW’s shelters, hotline, and housing programs. Every day, upwards of 100 women, children, and families are helped by YWCA Dayton.

“At YWCA Dayton, we pride ourselves on being flexible and adaptable,” said Alicia Manning, finance director. “We operate with the assumption that funding streams are never guaranteed, and we continue to diversify those streams so that no one reduction has significant impact. Our work is too important.”

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing intimate-partner violence, YWCA Dayton can help. 24/7 Crisis Hotline: 937-222-SAFE (7233).