Dear Friends of SARA,
It is officially crunch time at the Virginia General Assembly. Committees in the House and the Senate are considering amendments to the Governor's budget—including amendments introduced by Delegate Delaney and Senator Favola to establish a new Put Victims First Fund and to make an initial investment of $30 Million each year into the funds for grants to Sexual and Domestic Violence Agencies, Victim Witness programs, Child Advocacy Centers and other victim-service providers.
The consequences of reducing funding, to every victim-service agency in every jurisdiction, are unconscionable. If legislators do not allocate funds to support all victims of crime, they are choosing to ignore and erase one of the most powerful tools we have to make our communities safer, healthier, and brighter - survivors' stories. By reducing funding for victim-services, lawmakers are asking survivors to carry the burdens of crimes committed against them alone, and for a lifetime. These are not their burdens to carry.
Our statewide coalition, the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance is leading the way with engagement materials that I am grateful to share with you below.
You can send an Action Alert to Virginia’s General Assembly asking legislators to support the new Put Victims First Fund.
Interim Executive Director
Put Victims First Virginia
We have an emergency in Virginia. Local organizations providing life-saving services for victims of crime are in serious crisis.
PUT VICTIMS FIRST VIRGINIA is an all-encompassing and integrative statewide fund that ensures all victims of crime can access the services they need.
WHAT DOES A VICTIMS’ SERVICES CRISIS LOOK LIKE?
A domestic violence victim seeking safety is unable to find emergency shelter because there are no available beds.
A trafficked child who needs a forensic exam has to travel two counties over for the nearest services.
An emergency hotline that was previously available 24/7 now only operates weekdays from 9am-5pm.
A sexual assault victim who needs trauma counseling is put on a 3-month waiting list for the services the need.
A prosecutor who needs testimony for their case but no Victim-Witness Advocate is available to help.
This is happening already in Virginia and it will only get worse if we don’t act now.
HOW DID WE GET HERE? 3 MAJOR REASONS:
1. Ongoing and drastic cuts in federal VOCA and TANF funding, while pandemic era relief funding comes to an end.
2. Decades of inadequate state funding for these services.
3. An unprecedented increase in victims needing crisis services and shelter.
HOW DO WE FIX IT? VIRGINIA MUST STEP UP AND PUT VICTIMS FIRST.
An initial investment of $30M a year is urgently needed to keep essential services for victims available and the organizations that provide them afloat.
• $7.5M (25%) for Virginia’s 71 local sexual and domestic violence agencies
• $7.5M (25%) for Virginia’s 114 victim-witness assistance programs
• $6M (20%) for Virginia’s 26 child-advocacy centers and satellite locations
• $4.5M (15%) for other victim services programs funded by DCJS
• $3M (10%) for statewide hotlines and victim information lines
• $1.5M (5%) to DCJS for the administration of these funds.
READ THE FULL PUT VICTIMS FIRST POLICY BRIEF BELOW...