Missouri Victim Advocate Group Sees Decreased Funding
LAFAYETTE COUNTY - The Missouri Victim Assistance Network, or MOVA, is a statewide organization meant to promote crime victims' rights.
The organization has victim advocates in more than half of the counties across the state and those people serve as a resource to crime victims in the criminal justice system. From providing support during trial to advising victims in legal situations, victim advocates work as a liaison between the victim and the prosecuting attorney.
However, the network has seen cuts in funding, affecting the network's ability to reach crime victims.
MOVA President Kellie Campbell also serves as Lafayette County Prosecuting Attorney and sees the importance of victim advocates from multiple sides.
However, the Lafayette County victim advocate's salary dropped by 18%, leaving Campbell without a victim advocate for her county.
"I would love to see that prevented," Campbell said. "I want to see funds in place that ensure that we can provide and pay for a victim advocate in every office if possible."
This budget cut was on the county level, but Campbell said she expects state funding to decrease in the near future.
In order to secure funding for the organization, MOVA has a lobbyist in Jefferson City to ensure MOVA's needs are heard at the state level and help prevent some of the expected budget cuts.
"We're out there trying to find out what we can do about that again, trying to make sure we have a stable position for a victim advocate in our county and in every county," Campbell said.
Campbell said some larger counties in Missouri need more than just one victim advocate, but she would like to see at least one in every county in the state. Some of the counties pay for their own victim advocate, whereas others rely on state grants to afford the position. The counties that depend on state funding to employ a victim advocate will likely suffer the most from the possible cuts.
"I think when funding gets cut from a victim advocate position, victim services are definitely affected, and yes it hurts victims of crime," Campbell said.
MOVA will host its conference from March 20-22 and is open to the public to learn more about the network and get involved.