If VOCA funding is cut from the 2015 level, it will be devastating to programs that provide victim services across the U.S.; it will reduce the numbers of victims we serve, reduce staff, and possibly lead to the elimination of victim service programs.
FSS serves victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and family survivors of homicide through VOCA funded services such as shelter, rape crisis services, legal assistance, direct counseling, and more. Potter County, Randall County, and county/city governments all over Texas receive VOCA funds to fund victims advocates at prosecutors’ offices, law enforcement agencies, and other coordinated community responses to violence. And an important thing to remember is that VOCA is financed by fines and penalties paid by convicted federal offenders, not from tax dollars.
Congress is contemplating two decisions on VOCA funding:
- Decreasing the appropriations nationwide from $2.3 billion to an amount much lower.
- “Raiding” the VOCA for $1.5 billion to help with “offsets” of the overall federal budget.
The Texas Council on Family Violence, the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, The National Council on Domestic Violence, and many, many more advocacy groups across the Nation agree that taking funds from VOCA for offset purposes sets a dangerous precedent for future raids and uses the money for a purpose outside of the federal law that collected VOCA money in the first place.
The local need for funding- Last year:
- Over 800 sexual assault victims were seen by Family Support Services crisis advocates.
- Family Support Services provided a safe house to over 250 survivors, the large majority of which were children.
- The FSS 24-hour Crisis Hotline reported 2,410 crisis calls related to domestic violence or sexual assault.
- Amarillo had 7 murders related to domestic violence last year. Seven!
If you believe that VOCA funding cuts would be harmful, you can let your local U.S. Representative and Senator know. In the Texas Panhandle, they are:
- Representative Mac Thornberry: (202) 225-3706 (Staff Person handling VOCA issues: Catherine Knowles firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Senator John Cornyn (202) 224-9499 (Staff Person handling VOCA issues: Stephen Tausend Stephen_Tausend@judiciary-rep.senate.gov)
You can also show support through social media if you choose to. Examples of how others are doing this are:
- @InsertYourRepOrSenTwitterHandle Please protect the Victims of Crime Act. Rape Crisis Centers need to help victims on waiting lists. #DontCutVOCA
- @InsertYourRepOrSenTwitterHandle Domestic violence victims need VOCA to stay safe. Too many are turned away. #DontCutVOCA
- @InsertYourRepOrSenTwitterHandle #DontCutVOCA when the FY 15 increase is just starting to help hurting victims.
- @InsertYourRepOrSenTwitterHandle #DontCutVOCA just when survivors of sexual assault are finding courage to seek services.
Serving victims and survivors of crime is a responsibility that we do not take lightly, and critical services to victims will be cut if VOCA funding is cut.
Family Support Services