VAWA Programs Increased by $17.3 million
Sexual assault advocates have reason to celebrate the December 26th signing of the $555 billion Omnibus funding package for FY 2008. For the first time, the Sexual Assault Services Program (SASP) will be funded and federal resources for sexual assault victim services will be made available! The first time funding level for SASP is $9.4 million.
The bill debated by Congress and ultimately signed into law by the President combined all of the unfinished appropriations for FY 2008, including the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (LHHS) and Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) appropriations bills. This means that funding for VAWA and VOCA programs (e.g., Rural Grants Program, RPE, SASP, STOP, etc.) and many other programs on which survivors and their children rely including, Head Start, child care, housing assistance, and home energy aid will be funded through one omnibus spending measure. Overall, VAWA programs administered by the Department of Justice have seen a $17.3 million increase!
While we are thrilled to report that SASP has received funding and VAWA as a whole has received an increase, unfortunately the news is not entirely positive. Many programs received cuts including the Victim of Crime Act Fund (VOCA), which has been cut by $35 million. Many Members of Congress supported increases to the VOCA cap, the pressure from the President to cut funding was just too strong.
Programs within the Labor Health and Human Services budget like the Rape Prevention and Education program and the Family Violence Prevention Services Act (FVPSA) received no funding increases or cuts, leaving them at the same funding level as last year. Each year, however, all programs have a small percent taken off their overall budget, called a rescission. This year the rescission for programs in the LHHS portion of the bill was a 1.747% across the board cut which essentially cuts funding to these programs.
We need your voice! NAESV will be focusing on these strategic activities this month:
- Document the impact: The National Center for Victims of Crime will be developing a user-friendly survey for advocates and program providers to tell us how the VOCA cut impacts your programs and victims in your area. NAESV and other organizations will help to distribute the survey nationwide, and the results will be used as evidence as we fight for VOCA increases in fiscal year 2009.
- Call-in: We will be organizing a call-in day for folks to discuss the impact of the VOCA cut and discuss how we can move forward in the future.
- Write a letter: We will draft a letter that you can modify and send to your Members of Congress about the importance of VOCA funding.
- Talks to candidates: We will supply you with talking points and questions for the presidential candidates. As they move through the primaries, they need to know that VOCA is a significant issue for the American public.
- Thank you for being ready to act in these strategic ways to ensure a stable future for VOCA!