Funding & Appropriations
Together, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) programs, the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Fund, and related programs create and support comprehensive responses to the needs of victims of domestic violence.
Federal funding for VAWA, VOCA, and FVPSA has enhanced federal, tribal, state and local responses to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking, and supported lifesaving emergency shelters and services for domestic violence victims and other crime victims.
VAWA, FVPSA, and VOCA funding support domestic violence shelters, law enforcement, courts, rape crisis centers, children’s services, prevention, community outreach, and other state and local programs that provide services for victims and families. These programs have made significant progress towards ending domestic and sexual violence. Statistics show a significant decline in domestic violence since VAWA was first enacted in 1994. In addition to saving lives, VAWA, FVPSA, and VOCA save money by reducing future violence and other related social costs.
Current Updates on Federal Funding
Desperate Need Remains
Despite this progress, shelters and other domestic and sexual violence service providers continue to face budget shortfalls. At the same time, the national spotlight on these crimes is bringing more survivors out of the shadows and increasing requests for prevention programs, which create an increased demand for services. Many programs are forced to turn away victims who are desperate and have nowhere to go.
NNEDV’s 2016 National DV Counts Census found that on just one day, across the United State and U.S. Territories, 72,959 adults and children received services from domestic violence programs. Unfortunately, 11,991 requests for services went unmet due to lack of resources.
In 2014, domestic violence programs funded by the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) provided shelter and nonresidential services to approximately 1.3 million victims. However, due to lack of capacity, and additional 196,467 requests for shelter went unmet.
Investments in Non-Defense Discretionary Programs: Victims of domestic and sexual violence often rely on an array of social safety nets to rebuild their lives after fleeing abuse or experiencing trauma. Victim advocates are incredibly concerned with threatened cuts to the overall non-defense discretionary (NDD) budget and to specific programs that help survivors. Investment in housing, legal services, human services, economic supports and other safety net programs is critical to ensure that survivors can find safety and long-term stability for themselves and their children.
Victims of Crime Act (VOCA): VOCA uses non-taxpayer money from the Crime Victims Fund for programs that directly service victims of crime, including state formula victim assistance grants. These funds, which come from fines paid by federal criminals, support services to 4 million victims of all types of crimes annually, through 4,400 direct service agencies such as domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, and child abuse treatment programs. VOCA should be released at a funding level of at least the average of the last three years’ deposits with a tribal funding stream to address the devastating needs on tribal lands.
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA): VAWA programs are at the heart of our nation’s response to domestic violence. Each of these programs is critical to ensuring that victims are safe, that offenders are held accountable, and that our communities are more secure. Key programs within VAWA include the following:
- The Services, Training, Officers and Prosecutors (STOP) state formula grant program supports coordinated community responses to domestic and sexual violence, as well as specialized services.
- The Civil Legal Assistance for Victims (LAV) program addresses the civil legal needs of victims. It provides practical solutions and long-term stability for victims and their children, and helps to lower incidents of domestic violence.
- The Services for Rural Victims grant program enables communities to develop services to meet the unique needs of victims in rural areas.
- The Transitional Housing grant program provides an essential continuum between emergency shelter and permanent safe housing for survivors fleeing violence.
- The Improving Criminal Justice Response program increases offender accountability and reduces homicide.
- The Sexual Assault Services Program state formula grant program funds rape crisis centers and services.
Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA): FVPSA funds emergency shelters, crisis lines, counseling, victim assistance, and other vital services for over 1.3 million domestic violence victims and their children each year. FVPSA funding has remained relatively stagnant, resulting in inadequate services available for victims in need. As the only dedicated federal funding source for domestic violence services, FVPSA must be funded at its full authorization.
FVPSA and related programs work together to develop effective responses to domestic and sexual violence. Key programs within related agencies include DELTA, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the Rape Prevention and Education Program; and the Preventive Health and Health Services Block grant. Each of these programs should be funded at their full authorization levels.
Congress considers funding for VAWA, FVPSA, VOCA, and related programs each year when they “appropriate” dollars to these programs in the Congressional Budget.
NNEDV co-chairs the Campaign for Funding to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, an alliance of over 30 national organizations advocating for funding for VAWA, FVPSA and VOCA. The Campaign urges Congress to provide strategic increases for VAWA and FVPSA and to increase the annual distribution of VOCA funding in order to meet the rising demand for services and continue progress towards ending domestic violence and sexual assault.