January 4, 2014
Several domestic and sexual violence agencies in Virginia have cut back or closed due to a lack of funds. But a new budget amendment could be a game changer for these groups.
Statewide programs have faced serious funding issues in recent years. But if some new legislation makes its way through the General Assembly, that could all change. There are two things in the General Assembly that could change the game for crisis centers.
Shelter for Help in Emergency Director Cartie Lominack says House bill 1 would simplify the funding process for local programs--so more time and resources can be dedicated to services.
"House bill one is a bill that's been put forth by the Republican caucus to streamline funding for domestic and sexual violence advocacy agencies."
Statewide, the funding for these programs is currently 5.4 million.
A General Assembly budget amendment would add another $10.6 million in funding.
If you wonder whether or not these services are needed, advocates say absolutely.
- 1 in 3 women in Virginia have experienced rape, violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.
- 1 in 5 men in Virginia have experienced rape, violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.
- In four years, intimate partner homicides increased by 65%.
- The need for these services has increased 35% in five years while funding has decreased.
Lominack says the lack of funding can be devastating to services.
"What we are learning from all of the programs is that it’s likely that a hotline will ring and someone won’t answer it somewhere in the state. It’s likely that someone will request a bed because they need to get out of an abusive relationship and there won’t be one available."
If both pass, the increase funds would go for services to children and youth, trauma counseling, relocation funds and services for victims, and prevention programming.