Victim service providers face federal funding cuts

Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 11:32 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The Victims of Crime Act, known as VOCA, helps provide federal funding to victim service providers. Due to a loophole, money from VOCA went into the general treasury. Legislators have passed a bill to address the issue, but it will take time to rebuild the fund.

During the last year, victim service providers have seen an increase in the number of people in need, making the lack of funds even more impactful.

“We already had a waiting list for services, so we know that the resources we had at the time weren’t enough to meet the need, and since COVID, and the things that have happened over the last couple of years, the need for our services continue to grow,” said Michelle Trent, The Compass Center Executive Director.

Victim services providers across the country depend on federal funds. In South Dakota, some have seen a major decline.

“Some agencies experienced anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000 in cuts,” said Krista Heeran-Graber, South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault Executive Director.

Even with fewer funds coming in, the goal is still the same: to help as many people as possible.

“Our sole purpose is to be here for those who have been victimized, whether that’s domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault, we want to always be able to provide those services at no cost and be accessible 24/7,” said Amy Carter, Children’s Inn Operations Director.

With the VOCA funds expected to take some time to get more money, agencies will be looking to do what they can to fill the void.

“We are certainly looking at a variety of different options, we’ve made some program adjustments and done some pieces to redirect some dollars,” said Trent. “We’re working with partners like the city, the state, and the United Way.”

More help may be needed to make sure victim service providers can offer all their services in a timely manner.

“We’ve been talking to legislators and during legislative session 2022, we’re hoping that there will be some one-time funds that will be appropriated to fix the hole that was left by the funding cuts,” said Heeran-Graber.

Many agencies also depend on support from their local communities, and with the funding cut and the increase of those using their services, they may need more help than ever. Many victim service providers have options for people to donate or help out on their websites.

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