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FY 2016 Funding Bill Includes Record Investments to Address Violence Against Women

December 18, 2015

Washington, DC – Today the  U.S. Congress passed the omnibus Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Funding bill with record investments in programs that address domestic and sexual violence, including the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) fund, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA).

“Increased attention to domestic and sexual violence is shining a light on these shameful crimes that impact millions of victims and their families each year,” said Kim Gandy, President and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV). “This level of funding is long overdue, and can begin to transform victim services and multiply our efforts towards preventing, addressing, and ending domestic and sexual violence.”

Make no mistake, this will save lives

Specifically, the bill includes an additional $15 million for the FVPSA, the nation’s only dedicated funding for shelters and related services for domestic violence victims and their children and an additional $50 million for coordinated community responses and specialized services authorized by VAWA. The bill also releases an additional $312 million from the VOCA Fund for state victim assistance grants, which are used to provide direct services to victims of crime in each state. This important investment builds on the funding released from the VOCA Fund through the FY 15 bill. While VOCA releases have been historically low compared to deposits made into the fund, last year’s bill released the amount in VOCA that was deposited into the Fund in the previous year.

“Last year’s VOCA increase was celebrated and welcomed across the nation, as this year’s increase will be. “The promise of steady funding has allowed states to plan for the future and begin to tackle the long-standing, unacceptable status quo – victims’ lack of access to services,” said Gandy.

Advocates were concerned when earlier this year as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, Congress and the Administration rescinded $1.5 billion from the VOCA Crime Victim Fund, the $12 billion non-taxpayer source of funds, from which a specific amount each year is appropriated to help victims. In light of the budget deal, NNEDV and its allies generated thousands of calls, emails and phone calls to Congress, urging them to protect VAWA and VOCA.

Increased federal funding is critical if we are ever going to disrupt this stubborn gap in services

For the 9th consecutive year NNEDV conducted its one-day unduplicated account of adults and children seeking domestic violence services in the United States. In just one 24 hour period in 2014 almost 11,000 requests for services went unmet because domestic violence service providers did not have the resources to meet the immense need.

“Increased federal funding is critical if we are ever going to disrupt this stubborn gap in services,” said Gandy. “Make no mistake, this will save lives.”

NNEDV and victim advocates nationwide are applauding the leadership of the appropriators, specifically, Senators Richard Shelby (R-AL), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representatives John Culberson (R-TX) Mike Honda (D-CA), Tom Cole (R-OK), and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and other congressional champions of VOCA, VAWA and FVPSA funding, administration officials, crime victims, and advocacy organizations for this achievement. We also thank those who fought for the funding, including Representative Ted Poe (R-TX), Jim Costa (D-CA), Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Patrick Toomey (R-PA), and Representatives Gwen Moore (D-WI), John Conyers (D-MI), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Judy Chu (D-CA).

“These increases reflect the leadership of key appropriators and the culmination of years of advocacy from the victims’ rights field,” said Gandy. “These key funding investments will make a difference in the lives of countless victims and their children. For that, we are grateful.”

Though an earlier version of the bill included a VOCA funding allocation for tribes, the final bill did not – without access to these funds victims on tribal lands will suffer without adequate services. Additionally, advocates are urging Congress not to transfer VOCA Funds to fund other federal programs, as was done in the FY16 bill.

While the increases provided in the bill are instrumental in ensuring resources are available to keep survivors safe, there is still a long way to go until these appalling crimes are diminished.