VAWA, VOCA, FVPSA Appropriations in 2021
As has been widely reported, the COVID-19 Pandemic presented a slew of fiscal challenges for the federal government, which struggled throughout most of December to resolve the federal budget. Due to the advocacy of domestic violence (DV) advocates and statewide coalitions across the country, catastrophic cuts to programs supporting DV survivors and support services were avoided.
Here’s a quick run-down of some relevant appropriations:
- The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Fund received a $2.015 billion allocation. Although this was a $635 million cut from last year’s appropriation, the Senate was pushing to cut the fund by more than $1 billion.
- The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Program received increases for transitional housing (+$3 million), the Sexual Assault Services Program (+$3 million), Legal Assistance for Victims (+$1 million), Rural Grants (+$1.5 million), youth programs (+$500,000), protections and services for disabled victims (+$500,000) and the Elder Abuse Grant Program (+$500,000).
- The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) Program received an increase of $7.5 million (for a total of $182.5 million) and an additional $7 million to supplement the set aside for tribal services. The Rape Prevention and Education Program received $51.75 million and DELTA received $5.5 million.
- DV Bonus funds for housing (e.g., Continuum of Care and Homelessness Assistance Grant program) received a $2 million increase, for a total of $52 million. The COVID relief package also created an incremental rental assistance voucher program, funded at $34 million, for survivors fleeing or attempting to flee DV, sexual assault, dating violence or stalking. NNEDV will keep us apprised of eligibility requirements for this new program when they become available.
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and child nutrition benefits received a $13 billion increase to help relieve the current hunger crisis that has left up to 17 million children food insecure.
- Broadband access: The COVID relief package includes a $7 billion investment to increase access to broadband, including a new Emergency Broadband Benefit to help millions of students, families and unemployed workers afford the broadband they need during the pandemic.
Long-Term Fix for VOCA Not Yet Achieved
The VOCA fund continues to face massive cuts if Congress does not alter the method for depositing funds into the Crime Victims Fund (CVF), which fuels VOCA grants. In addition to penalties for criminal convictions, DV advocates are urging Congress to divert federal financial penalties from deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements into the CVF. NYSCADV will continue working with DV advocates and our national partners on this critical change.