By Paula Roller, Special to the Galion Inquirer
It is now day 28 of the Federal government shutdown and many social service agencies are feeling a financial pinch and considering cuts until the government reopens. Several social service agencies rely on federal funding for many programs and services to help victims of crime, including the programs and resources in our communities that work to combat rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence issues.
The Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA) is a piece of legislation that established the Crime Victims Fund. This fund acts as a major source of funding for many victim services nationally. These funds are generated from the collection of Federal criminal fines, and not tax payer money. To receive these funds, agencies and organizations must directly serve victims of crime as the core component of its programs.
Even though a form of federal funding, these funds are managed at the state-level. VOCA reimbursements have not been affected yet as these moneys are appropriated by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, rather than directly through the federal Department of Justice. The Justice Department Office of Justice Programs has already stated that they can only process funding requests through Jan. 18. Interruption of funding is inevitable, however, how long it takes to reach State level is undetermined.
Another source of funding affected by the shutdown, was the expiration of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) along with its grant dollars. VAWA has granted many various resources for communities to combat sexual assault and domestic violence. The VAWA grants have been awarded for this fiscal year, but again, the reimbursement requests will not be able to be processed after January 18. Not only does the expiration affect our program financially, but it also affects the federal protections to those who have been victims of abuse. The protections granted by VAWA branch out into every part of our mission.
Across the state, various agencies are focusing on how long they can provide services without receiving reimbursements. If the shutdown continues, focus will shift to cutting costs and laying off employees. This means that many life-saving services provided to victims will be impacted.
As of now, Turning Point is operating as business as usual. However, if the shutdown continues, that could dramatically change. Turning Point is significantly supported by the Victims of Crime Act Grants (VOCA). Turning Point received $902,589 from VOCA and $50,403 from VAWA last fiscal year.
The shutdown has not only financial effects, but there are also are also impacts being felt in the psyche of victims and survivors. The sociological implications of the government’s inability to help victims is: women, and crimes that statistically occur more often to women, do not matter.
As we are nearing our 40th anniversary, we know we have survived shutdowns and recessions in the past and have learned that we depend on the community to help us continue our mission to serve victims of domestic violence. We urge those who support Turning Point’s mission to end domestic violence to reach out to your representatives to let them know that an end to the shutdown is vital for victims to keep the help they deserve. Now is the time for action.
Turning Point is a non-profit agency that offers programs and services to victims of domestic violence in Crawford, Delaware, Marion, Morrow, Union, and Wyandot counties in North Central Ohio. Funding comes for a variety of sources, including the United Way and the Delaware/Morrow Mental Health and Recovery Services Board. Last year, it fielded 845 crisis calls and helped 1,746 clients with various services from shelter to victims’ advocacy.
If you or someone you know needs help or if you would like more information, call 800-232-6505 or 740-382-8988 or check out our website at www.turningpoint6.org. You may also look for us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.