Apr 13 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) and a bipartisan group of 40 members requested that any future legislation to address COVID-19 includes support for victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. The senators express concern that service providers are reporting that abusers are using COVID-19 to isolate their victims, withhold financial resources, and refuse medical aid; rape crisis centers are seeing increased need for services; and many local law enforcement agencies are receiving an increased number of domestic violence-related calls.

“We appreciate that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided $45 million for domestic violence services funded through the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act and $2 million for the National Domestic Violence Hotline,” the senators wrote. “While this funding provides critical resources, the legislation did not include any additional support for sexual assault or domestic violence-related programs funded through the Department of Justice. These programs deliver essential support that is particularly needed at this time, including support for sexual assault service providers, law enforcement, and transitional housing programs, as well as for organizations that address the needs of communities of color and underserved populations.”

The full letter can be found here.

Senator Tillis also signed on to a letter in support of domestic violence programs authorized by the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which can be found here.

The letters request the following support:

Department of Justice

Support through the Department of Justice

·       At least $100 million for the Sexual Assault Service Program;

·       At least $225 million for VAWA STOP Grants ?with a priority on flexible funding for victim service providers, with at least 20 percent of the funding for eligible entities under 34 U.S.C. § 20124(c) and equitable distribution of funding between services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault; 

·       At least $10 million for Grants for Outreach and Services to Underserved Populations; and,

·       At least $40 million to VAWA Transitional Housing Assistance Grants.

·       We also request that the matching fund requirements for the Victims of Crime Act grants be waived during this crisis to more quickly meet survivors’ needs.

Set-aside assistance for Tribes and Tribal Organizations (DOJ)

·       VAWA programs:

o   $22.5 million for grants to Tribal governments;

o   $10 million to Tribes under the Sexual Assault Services Program;

o   $3 million to Tribal jurisdiction; and

o   $3 million to Tribal coalitions.

·       Office of Victims of Crime:  $16,765,000 additional set aside for Tribal governments.

Health and Human Services

Support for shelter and supports, resource centers and technical assistance

·       At least an additional $100 million for FVPSA programs, including funding for:

o   the Specialized Services for Abused Parents and their Children Demonstration Grant and technical assistance;

o   the Training and Technical Assistance Resource Centers;

o   the Emerging Issue Capacity Building Centers; and

·       At least $100 million for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to coordinate language-accessible public outreach to hard-to-reach populations.

Set-aside assistance for Tribes and Tribal Organizations (in addition to the above allocation)

·       $100 million FVPSA funds set aside for Tribal governments; and

·       $1 million to be split evenly between the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center and Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center.

Support for children

·       In addition to the funding for Specialized Services for Abused Parents and their Children, we urge you to include robust increases in emergency supplemental funding under Titles I and II of CAPTA for programs that strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect.