Small Victory in the Battle to Save DV Funding

This past Saturday Representative Darrell Issa held two town hall meetings. In the morning town hall when he was asked about the whispering of a budget that would cut funding to the Office of Violence Against Women he promised to keep that from happening. Representative Issa said he will continue to work hard to protect VAWA and the work it does for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Fast Forward to Thursday of this week and the White House release of President Trump’s FY18 budget. And Representative Issa’s promise rings true, there is no call to eliminate the funding of the Violence Against Women Act. However spread throughout the suggested budget cuts are many programs that would have a monumental impact on victims of domestic violence.

The President’s budget does propose a 4% decrease in funding for the U.S Department of Justice and 18% cuts in U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. If the budget cuts are spread across the board to all programs that fall under the Dept. of HHS this may impact VAWA and the Family Violence Prevention & Services Act funds (FVPSA).

VAWA programs fund specialized training for law enforcement, prevention and education, and the FVPSA is the primary federal funding source for the confidential emergency shelters for domestic violence victims.

Monica McLaughlin, deputy director of public policy at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, estimated that if the cuts were applied across the board (as opposed to targeting programs individually), approximately 260,000 fewer victims would be able to access shelters and supportive services each year. Last year WRC provided emergency shelter to 113 adults and 170 children for a total of 303 individuals. They were provided with a place to eat and sleep free from the violence that threatened their lives.

This budget recommends elimination of funding to the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) which provides funding to non-profit legal aid programs across the country. The LSC is a nonprofit that provides free civil legal assistance for low-income Americans. More than 70 percent of its clients are women, and almost a third of cases closed by local programs involve family law.

The second most common request for services among domestic violence victims is legal aid.  Studies have found that it is harder for women to get restraining orders without the assistance of a lawyer.  Legal aid can be just as effective as counseling and shelter services in keeping victims safe according to one study.  WRC and many other programs in the county are provided with legal assistance to through the YWCA of San Diego.  Every other Tuesday our lobby is full of survivors waiting to speak and receive assistance from the lawyers.

WRC is a member of the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence and we will be working with them to continue to raise awareness through our blog and social media pages as well as preparing calls to action.  On May 2nd-3rd CPEDV will be hosting an event in Sacramento to speak with the leadership there about the work DV organizations are doing in CA to end domestic violence.

You can find a letter here that thanks Representative Issa for his pledge and we encourage all of our supporters to send one.  And we will be watching and waiting to hear what his thoughts are on the current budget. WRC has been providing services to the north county for over 40 years and we will continue to fight for the survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and their families.

-California Partnership to End Domestic Violence

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