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Category: News

March 4, 2014

But funding is not keeping pace with inflation or demand for services

Today, President Obama released his 2015 budget, which commits modest increases to programs serving victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, including the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) shelter funding.

"Domestic violence programs are facing a prolonged crisis caused by funding shortfalls," said Kim Gandy, President and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV). "While we pick up the pieces in the wake of sequestration, programs are still struggling to provide basic services to victims in need."

The President's proposal would release 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. Importantly, the proposed budget also maintains the recently increased funding for the VAWA cornerstone STOP state formula grant program, which supports effective and life-saving coordinated community responses to domestic and sexual violence.

FVPSA, the federal government's only dedicated funding stream for domestic violence shelters and programs, would receive a modest proposed increase of about 4% over the 2012 budget, which is critically important but does not keep pace with inflation.

The President's budget restores some of the funding that had been cut from housing and also provides increased legal services assistance to victims. The proposed increase of $2 million in the VAWA Campus program would help to implement improvements to our nation's response to the epidemic of campus sexual assault and dating violence. Significant funding of $35 million to address the nationwide rape kit backlog would help to identify serial rapists and prosecute dangerous assailants. The President's proposal, unfortunately, would decrease funding for VAWA's critical Rural grant program.

"NNEDV is grateful to the President, the Vice President and the entire Administration for their commitment to ending violence against women and for investments in these lifesaving programs," said Gandy. "These funding increases compliment the innovative initiatives the Administration has undertaken, from addressing workplace violence to addressing campus dating and sexual violence, but still more is needed."

"While we applaud these investments, we worry about the desperate victims who come to our doors but are turned away because the resources are not there," added Gandy.

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. During that same 24-hour period, however, more than 10,000 requests for services went unmet largely due to lack of funding. The 2013 report will be released at a Congressional briefing on Thursday, March 6, 2014.

"Unfortunately," said Gandy, "the funding is not keeping up with inflation, which means that victims must be turned away when they are at their most vulnerable. The consequences for victims who can't access services can be dire – homelessness, further abuse, even death."

"We look forward to working with Congress to build on these investments and to fully fund these critical 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," Gandy concluded.

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