Victim service groups express concerns after federal budget cut

1 year 2 weeks 2 days ago January 06, 2016 Jan 6, 2016 Wednesday, January 06 2016 Wednesday, January 06, 2016 10:57:36 PM CST in News
By: Amber Smith, KOMU 8 Reporter

FULTON - Missouri victim service organizations are expressing concerns after a shift in federal funding.

The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding was cut by $1.5 billion dollars in November through a federal budget bill.

The money shifted out of the VOCA funds was allocated to other government programs comes. That money comes from federal criminal fees, not tax dollars.

The Coalition Against Rape and Domestic Violence is an organization in Callaway County that serves victims of domestic and sexual violence by providing counseling, court advocacy and more. 

It posted on the organization's Facebook page, before the spending bills were passed, encouraging people to write to senators and representatives urging them not to cut VOCA funds.

CARDV Executive Director Erica Nanney said VOCA currently accounts for 12 percent of the group's funding. Nanney said, since cuts in federal funds have a trickle-down effect, she is not yet sure how they will directly effect CARDV. However, she said the cut will harm victim services around the country.

"CARDV and hundreds of other domestic violence, sexual assault, and child advocacy victim service programs throughout the nation will suffer, and when these programs suffer, so do the victims they serve," Nanney said.

Even before the funding cuts, budget constraints meant domestic violence services in Missouri were only able to help half the people seeking assistance.

Statistics from the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (MCADSV) reveals around 35,000 people used domestic violence services in Missouri last year.

However, MCADSV CEO Colleen Coble said 30,000 Missouri domestic violence victims were turned away.

"The downside is that there is about that same number who are seeking services, be it safe shelter or legal advocacy or counseling, and the programs don't have enough resources for them," Coble said.

Nanney said VOCA funding cuts would just perpetuate wait times and the number of victims not receiving the help they need.

"We would not be able to provide services and support to as many victims.  Our counseling waiting list would continue to grow.  Our Victim Advocates would eventually burn out.  And all of these things would ultimately affect the safety and well-being of the victims and survivors who could have otherwise received our services," Nanney said.

Nanney said victims services have been underfunded for years and the latest change shows legislators don't care enough about victims services.

"At the end of the day, this cut sends a clear message: Crime victims don't matter to them.  But you know what?  Crime victims matter to us, and we will not stop fighting for them," Nanney said.

 

 

 

 

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